Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #726 The Kochtopus: The Tea Party Movement Manifests Classical Fascism

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Intro­duc­tion: The Tea Par­ty move­ment has gar­nered tremen­dous media atten­tion, most of which has focused on superficiality–images of “the angry vot­er,” false or mis­lead­ing state­ments about Oba­ma, and the assump­tion that some­how “they” are respon­si­ble for the dis­com­fort felt by the adher­ents to the Par­ty.

What has not received much pub­lic­i­ty until recent­ly is the fact that what appears to be a broad-based, “pop­ulist”, “grass-roots” move­ment is actu­al­ly dri­ven in con­sid­er­able mea­sure by insti­tu­tions financed by the very wealthy and ded­i­cat­ed to advanc­ing the inter­ests of that ele­ment of soci­ety. That advance is at the con­sid­er­able expense of Tea Par­ty adher­ents, many of whom will suc­cumb to the out­growths of the phi­los­o­phy they have embraced.

Label­ing Oba­ma alter­nate­ly “a Mus­lim” and/or “a Marx­ist” (fail­ing to under­stand the con­tra­dic­tion), attack­ing him for rais­ing tax­es (85% of Amer­i­cans are pay­ing low­er tax­es under Oba­ma) and for “try­ing to take away” their guns (he signed into law a bill allow­ing the car­ry­ing of loaded firearms on pub­lic park lands), the Tea Par­ty rank and file are mov­ing in the direc­tion of “inten­si­fy­ing pol­i­tics of free-mar­ket fun­da­men­tal­ism at the very his­tor­i­cal moment that proves the fail­ure of such an ide­ol­o­gy.”

Epit­o­miz­ing the polit­i­cal dual­ism embod­ied in the Tea Par­ty move­ment is the polit­i­cal machine put togeth­er by the bil­lion­aire Koch broth­ers, David Koch in par­tic­u­lar. (David Koch is pic­tured above, at right.) Son of one of the prime movers of the John Birch Soci­ety, David Koch was a dri­ving force behind the gen­e­sis of the Lib­er­tar­i­an Par­ty in the ear­ly 1980’s, run­ning for Vice-Pres­i­dent in 1980 against Ronald Rea­gan and George H.W. Bush.

The for­mi­da­ble array of think tanks and NGO’s, jour­nal­ists and polit­i­cal pun­dits who owe their careers to the broth­ers and their insti­tu­tions, togeth­er con­sti­tute the machine termed “The Kochto­pus.”

The foun­da­tion of the Kochs polit­i­cal philosophy–embodied in the polit­i­cal real­i­ties under­ly­ing the Tea Party–is one of “cor­po­ratism” or “the Cor­po­rate State” as Mus­soli­ni put it. Indeed, Birch Soci­ety king­pin Fred Koch open­ly admired Mus­solin­i’s sup­posed “sup­pres­sion” of the com­mu­nists. (In fact, com­mu­nism was already wan­ing in Italy when Mus­soli­ni took over. See Mis­cel­la­neous Archive Show M42.)

In this con­text, one should nev­er for­get the inclu­sion of Nazis and fas­cists in the Repub­li­can Par­ty at a fun­da­men­tal lev­el.

Indeed, Charles Koch has opined that Amer­i­ca could be on the verge of “the great­est loss of lib­er­ty and pros­per­i­ty since the 1930s.” The ref­er­ence is, of course, to the New Deal. Many of this coun­try’s top indus­tri­al­ists and financiers attempt­ed to over­throw Roo­sevelt in 1934, hop­ing to set up a dic­ta­tor­ship like Mus­solin­i’s. The Bush fam­i­ly appear to have been involved with the plot­ting of the ’34 coup.

This trans­la­tion of Cor­po­ratism into a broad-based polit­i­cal move­ment is a man­i­fes­ta­tion of clas­si­cal fas­cism. Even for­mer close friends and asso­ciates of the Kochs admit that the broth­ers have con­fused “free­dom” with what will max­i­mize their cor­po­rate prof­its.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The Koch broth­ers’ found­ing of the Mer­ca­tus Center–an arche­typ­al Kochto­pus ele­ment; the Mer­ca­tus Cen­ter’s pro­found influ­ence on Bush (II) admin­is­tra­tion pol­i­cy; the Koch broth­ers manip­u­la­tion of envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions; the effect of that manip­u­la­tion on reg­u­la­tion of formaldehyde–a car­cino­gen pro­duced by Koch Indus­tries; David Koch’s role in financ­ing can­cer research–one of a num­ber of roles that places him in a posi­tion of con­flict of inter­est.

1. Despite their attempts at cul­ti­vat­ing the image of patrons of the arts and bene­fac­tors to soci­ety, the Kochs are, in fact, at the epi­cen­ter of the anti-Oba­ma move­ment. The broth­ers main com­mer­cial under­tak­ing is Koch Indus­tries, a con­glom­er­ate with major par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fos­sil-fuels and chem­i­cal indus­tries, in par­tic­u­lar.

. . . In Wash­ing­ton, Koch is best known as part of a fam­i­ly that has repeat­ed­ly fund­ed stealth attacks on the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, and on the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion in par­tic­u­lar.

With his broth­er Charles, who is sev­en­ty-four, David Koch owns vir­tu­al­ly all of Koch Indus­tries, a con­glom­er­ate, head­quar­tered in Wichi­ta, Kansas, whose annu­al rev­enues are esti­mat­ed to be a hun­dred bil­lion dol­lars. The com­pa­ny has grown spec­tac­u­lar­ly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the broth­ers took charge. 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, among oth­er prod­ucts. Forbes ranks it as the sec­ond-largest pri­vate com­pa­ny in the coun­try, after Cargill, and its con­sis­tent prof­itabil­i­ty has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two oth­er brothers—among the rich­est men in Amer­i­ca. Their com­bined for­tune of thir­ty-five bil­lion dol­lars is exceed­ed only by those of Bill Gates and War­ren Buf­fett. . . .

“Covert Oper­a­tions” by Jane May­er; The New York­er; 8/30/2010.

2. As major pol­luters and mem­bers of the ultra-rich, the Kochs stand to ben­fit from a frus­tra­tion of the Oba­ma polit­i­cal agen­da.

. . . The Kochs are long­time lib­er­tar­i­ans who believe in dras­ti­cal­ly low­er per­son­al and cor­po­rate tax­es, min­i­mal social ser­vices for the needy, and much less over­sight of industry—especially envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tion. These views dove­tail with the broth­ers’ cor­po­rate inter­ests. In a study released this spring, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mass­a­chu­setts at Amherst’s Polit­i­cal Econ­o­my Research Insti­tute named Koch Indus­tries one of the top ten air pol­luters in the Unit­ed States. And Green­peace issued a report iden­ti­fy­ing the com­pa­ny as a “king­pin of cli­mate sci­ence denial.” 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. Indeed, the broth­ers have fund­ed oppo­si­tion cam­paigns against so many Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion policies—from health-care reform to the eco­nom­ic-stim­u­lus program—that, in polit­i­cal cir­cles, their ide­o­log­i­cal net­work is known as the Kochto­pus.

In a state­ment, Koch Indus­tries said that the Green­peace report “dis­torts the envi­ron­men­tal record of our com­pa­nies.” And David Koch, in a recent, admir­ing arti­cle about him in New York, protest­ed that the “rad­i­cal press” had turned his fam­i­ly into “whip­ping boys,” and had exag­ger­at­ed its influ­ence on Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. But Charles Lewis, the founder of the Cen­ter for Pub­lic Integri­ty, a non­par­ti­san watch­dog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole dif­fer­ent lev­el. 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.” . . .


3. As indi­cat­ed above, the broth­ers learned their polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy from their father Fred Koch, a sem­i­nal mem­ber of the John Birch Soci­ety.

. . . . 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. Mem­bers con­sid­ered Pres­i­dent Dwight D. Eisen­how­er to be a Com­mu­nist agent. In a self-pub­lished broad­side, Koch claimed that “the Com­mu­nists have infil­trat­ed both the Demo­c­rat and Repub­li­can Par­ties.” He wrote admir­ing­ly of Ben­i­to Mussolini’s sup­pres­sion of Com­mu­nists in Italy, and dis­parag­ing­ly of the Amer­i­can civ­il-rights move­ment. “The col­ored man looms large in the Com­mu­nist plan to take over Amer­i­ca,” he warned. Wel­fare was a secret plot to attract rur­al blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that pre­fig­ures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret social­ist plot, Koch pre­dict­ed that Com­mu­nists would “infil­trate the high­est offices of gov­ern­ment in the U.S. until the Pres­i­dent is a Com­mu­nist, unknown to the rest of us.”. . .


4. Dis­claimers to the con­trary notwith­stand­ing, the Tea Par­ty move­ment is deeply involved with the Kochto­pus.

A few weeks after the Lin­coln Cen­ter gala, the advo­ca­cy wing of the Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty Foundation—an orga­ni­za­tion that David Koch start­ed, in 2004—held a dif­fer­ent kind of gath­er­ing. Over the July 4th week­end, a sum­mit called Texas Defend­ing the Amer­i­can Dream took place in a chilly hotel ball­room in Austin. Though Koch freely pro­motes his phil­an­thropic ven­tures, he did not attend the sum­mit, and his name was not in evi­dence. And on this occa­sion the audi­ence was roused not by a dance per­for­mance but by a series of speak­ers denounc­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma. Peg­gy Ven­able, the orga­niz­er of the sum­mit, warned that Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials “have a social­ist vision for this coun­try.”

Five hun­dred peo­ple attend­ed the sum­mit, which served, in part, as a train­ing ses­sion for Tea Par­ty activists in Texas. An adver­tise­ment cast the event as a pop­ulist upris­ing against vest­ed cor­po­rate pow­er. “Today, the voic­es of aver­age Amer­i­cans are being drowned out by lob­by­ists and spe­cial inter­ests,” it said. “But you can do some­thing about it.” The pitch made no men­tion of its cor­po­rate fun­ders. The White House has expressed frus­tra­tion that such spon­sors have large­ly elud­ed pub­lic notice. David Axel­rod, Obama’s senior advis­er, said, “What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grass­roots cit­i­zens’ move­ment brought to you by a bunch of oil bil­lion­aires.”

In April, 2009, Melis­sa Cohlmia, a com­pa­ny spokesper­son, denied that the Kochs had direct links to the Tea Par­ty, say­ing that Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty is “an inde­pen­dent orga­ni­za­tion and Koch com­pa­nies do not in any way direct their activ­i­ties.” Lat­er, she issued a state­ment: “No fund­ing has been pro­vid­ed by Koch com­pa­nies, the Koch foun­da­tions, or Charles Koch or David Koch specif­i­cal­ly to sup­port the tea par­ties.” David Koch told New York, “I’ve nev­er been to a tea-par­ty event. No one rep­re­sent­ing the tea par­ty has ever even approached me.”

At the lectern in Austin, how­ev­er, Venable—a long­time polit­i­cal oper­a­tive who draws a salary from Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty, and who has worked for Koch-fund­ed polit­i­cal groups since 1994—spoke less war­i­ly. “We love what the Tea Par­ties are doing, because that’s how we’re going to take back Amer­i­ca!” she declared, as the crowd cheered. In a sub­se­quent inter­view, she described her­self as an ear­ly mem­ber of the move­ment, jok­ing, “I was part of the Tea Par­ty before it was cool!” She explained that the role of Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty was to help “edu­cate” Tea Par­ty activists on pol­i­cy details, and to give them “next-step train­ing” after their ral­lies, so that their polit­i­cal ener­gy could be chan­neled “more effec­tive­ly.” 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. I’ve cer­tain­ly met with them, and I’m very appre­cia­tive of what they do.”

Ven­able hon­ored sev­er­al Tea Par­ty “cit­i­zen lead­ers” at the sum­mit. 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.).” The sum­mit fea­tured sev­er­al paid speak­ers, includ­ing Janine Turn­er, the actress best known for her role on the tele­vi­sion series “North­ern Expo­sure.” She declared, “They don’t want our chil­dren to know about their rights. They don’t want our chil­dren to know about a God!”

Dur­ing a catered lunch, Ven­able intro­duced Ted Cruz, a for­mer solic­i­tor gen­er­al of Texas, who told the crowd that Oba­ma was “the most rad­i­cal Pres­i­dent ever to occu­py the Oval Office,” and had hid­den from vot­ers a secret agenda—“the gov­ern­ment tak­ing over our econ­o­my and our lives.” Coun­ter­ing Oba­ma, Cruz pro­claimed, was “the epic fight of our gen­er­a­tion!” As the crowd rose to its feet and cheered, he quot­ed the defi­ant words of a Tex­an at the Alamo: “Vic­to­ry, or death!”

Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty has worked close­ly with the Tea Par­ty since the movement’s incep­tion. In the weeks before the first Tax Day protests, in April, 2009, Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty host­ed a Web site offer­ing sup­port­ers “Tea Par­ty Talk­ing Points.” The Ari­zona branch urged peo­ple to send tea bags to Oba­ma; the Mis­souri branch urged mem­bers to sign up for “Tax­pay­er Tea Par­ty Reg­is­tra­tion” and pro­vid­ed direc­tions to nine protests. The group con­tin­ues to stoke the rebel­lion. The North Car­oli­na branch recent­ly launched a “Tea Par­ty Find­er” Web site, adver­tised as “a hub for all the Tea Par­ties in North Car­oli­na.”


5. Epit­o­miz­ing the con­struct of the Kochs’ polit­i­cal appa­ra­tus is the Mer­ca­tus Cen­ter, estab­lished at a pri­vate uni­ver­si­ty in Vir­ginia. It has assert­ed tremen­dous influ­ence on pol­i­cy, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the admin­is­tra­tion of George W. Bush, for whose elec­tion the Kochs worked very hard.

. . . In the mid-eight­ies, the Kochs pro­vid­ed mil­lions of dol­lars to George Mason Uni­ver­si­ty, in Arling­ton, Vir­ginia, to set up anoth­er think tank. Now known as the Mer­ca­tus Cen­ter, it pro­motes itself as “the world’s pre­mier uni­ver­si­ty source for mar­ket-ori­ent­ed ideas—bridging the gap between aca­d­e­m­ic ideas and real-world prob­lems.” Finan­cial records show that the Koch fam­i­ly foun­da­tions have con­tributed more than thir­ty mil­lion dol­lars to George Mason, 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. It is an unusu­al arrange­ment. “George Mason is a pub­lic uni­ver­si­ty, and receives pub­lic funds,” Stein not­ed. “Vir­ginia is host­ing an insti­tu­tion that the Kochs prac­ti­cal­ly con­trol.”

The founder of the Mer­ca­tus Cen­ter is Richard Fink, for­mer­ly an econ­o­mist. Fink heads Koch Indus­tries’ lob­by­ing oper­a­tion in Wash­ing­ton. In addi­tion, he is the pres­i­dent of the Charles G. Koch Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion, the pres­i­dent of the Claude R. Lambe Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion, a direc­tor of the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foun­da­tion, and a direc­tor and co-founder, with David Koch, of the Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty Foun­da­tion.

Fink, with his many titles, has become the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem of the Kochto­pus. He appears to have sup­plant­ed Ed Crane, the head of the Cato Insti­tute, as the broth­ers’ main polit­i­cal lieu­tenant. Though David remains on the board at Cato, Charles Koch has fall­en out with Crane. Asso­ciates sug­gest­ed to me that Crane had been insuf­fi­cient­ly respect­ful of Charles’s man­age­ment phi­los­o­phy, which he dis­tilled into a book called “The Sci­ence of Suc­cess,” and trade­marked under the name Mar­ket-Based Man­age­ment, or M.B.M. In the book, Charles rec­om­mends instill­ing a company’s cor­po­rate cul­ture with the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the mar­ket­place. Koch describes M.B.M. as a “holis­tic sys­tem” con­tain­ing “five dimen­sions: vision, virtue and tal­ents, knowl­edge process­es, deci­sion rights and incen­tives.” A top Cato Insti­tute offi­cial told me that Charles “thinks he’s a genius. He’s the emper­or, and he’s con­vinced he’s wear­ing clothes.” Fink, by con­trast, has been far more embrac­ing of Charles’s ideas. (Fink, like the Kochs, declined to be inter­viewed.)

At a 1995 con­fer­ence for phil­an­thropists, Fink adopt­ed the lan­guage of eco­nom­ics when speak­ing about the Mer­ca­tus Center’s pur­pose. He said that grant-mak­ers should use think tanks and polit­i­cal-action groups to con­vert intel­lec­tu­al raw mate­ri­als into pol­i­cy “prod­ucts.”

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.” . . .


6. David Koch has spent mil­lions to fund can­cer research. With his indus­tri­al con­cerns pro­duc­ing known car­cino­gens, such as formalde­hyde, this con­sti­tutes a con­flict of interest–a type of con­flict that often results in res­o­lu­tions that sat­is­fy the major donors.

. . . And he became a patron of can­cer research, focus­ing on prostate can­cer. In addi­tion to his gifts to Sloan-Ket­ter­ing, he gave fif­teen mil­lion dol­lars to New York-Pres­by­ter­ian Hos­pi­tal, a hun­dred and twen­ty-five mil­lion to M.I.T. for can­cer research, twen­ty mil­lion to Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty, and twen­ty-five mil­lion to the M. D. Ander­son Can­cer Cen­ter, in Hous­ton. In response to his gen­eros­i­ty, Sloan-Ket­ter­ing gave Koch its Excel­lence in Cor­po­rate Lead­er­ship Award. In 2004, Pres­i­dent Bush named him to the Nation­al Can­cer Advi­so­ry Board, which guides the Nation­al Can­cer Insti­tute.

Koch’s cor­po­rate and polit­i­cal roles, how­ev­er, may pose con­flicts of inter­est. For exam­ple, at the same time that David Koch has been cast­ing him­self as a cham­pi­on in the fight against can­cer, Koch Indus­tries has been lob­by­ing to pre­vent the E.P.A. from clas­si­fy­ing formalde­hyde, which the com­pa­ny pro­duces in great quan­ti­ties, as a “known car­cino­gen” in humans.

Sci­en­tists have long known that formalde­hyde caus­es can­cer in rats, and sev­er­al major sci­en­tif­ic stud­ies have con­clud­ed that formalde­hyde caus­es can­cer in human beings—including one pub­lished last year by the Nation­al Can­cer Insti­tute, on whose advi­so­ry board Koch sits. The study tracked twen­ty-five thou­sand patients for an aver­age of forty years; sub­jects exposed to high­er amounts of formalde­hyde had sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er rates of leukemia. These results helped lead an expert pan­el with­in the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health to con­clude that formalde­hyde should be cat­e­go­rized as a known car­cino­gen, and be strict­ly con­trolled by the gov­ern­ment. Cor­po­ra­tions have resist­ed reg­u­la­tions on formalde­hyde for decades, how­ev­er, and Koch Indus­tries has been a large fun­der of mem­bers of Con­gress who have stymied the E.P.A., requir­ing it to defer new reg­u­la­tions until more stud­ies are com­plet­ed.

Koch Indus­tries became a major pro­duc­er of the chem­i­cal in 2005, after it bought Geor­gia-Pacif­ic, the paper and wood-prod­ucts com­pa­ny, for twen­ty-one bil­lion dol­lars. Geor­gia-Pacif­ic man­u­fac­tures formalde­hyde in its chem­i­cal divi­sion, and uses it to pro­duce var­i­ous wood prod­ucts, such as ply­wood and lam­i­nates. Its annu­al pro­duc­tion capac­i­ty for formalde­hyde is 2.2 bil­lion pounds. Last Decem­ber, Tray­lor Cham­pi­on, Georgia-Pacific’s vice-pres­i­dent of envi­ron­men­tal affairs, sent a for­mal let­ter of protest to fed­er­al health author­i­ties. He wrote that the com­pa­ny “strong­ly dis­agrees” with the N.I.H. panel’s con­clu­sion that formalde­hyde should be treat­ed as a known human car­cino­gen. David Koch did not recuse him­self from the Nation­al Can­cer Advi­so­ry Board, or divest him­self of com­pa­ny stock, while his com­pa­ny was direct­ly lob­by­ing the gov­ern­ment to keep formalde­hyde on the mar­ket. (A board spokesper­son said that the issue of formalde­hyde had not come up.)

James Huff, an asso­ciate direc­tor at the Nation­al Insti­tute for Envi­ron­men­tal Health Sci­ences, a divi­sion of the N.I.H., told me that it was “dis­gust­ing” for Koch to be serv­ing on the Nation­al Can­cer Advi­so­ry Board: “It’s just not good for pub­lic health. Vest­ed inter­ests should not be on the board.” He went on, “Those boards are very impor­tant. They’re very influ­en­tial as to whether N.C.I. goes into formalde­hyde or not. Bil­lions of dol­lars are involved in formalde­hyde.” . . .


7. When cit­i­zens have become sick­ened by pol­lu­tants pro­duced by the Koch broth­ers and their ilk, they will have less chance of receiv­ing ade­quate treat­ment if the Kochto­pus has its way. The broth­ers have been implaca­ble oppo­nents of health care reform.

. . . 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. At one ral­ly, an effi­gy of a Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gress­man was hung; at anoth­er, pro­test­ers unfurled a ban­ner depict­ing corpses from Dachau. The group also helped orga­nize the “Kill the Bill” protests out­side the Capi­tol, in March, where Demo­c­ra­t­ic sup­port­ers of health-care reform alleged that they were spat on and cursed at. Phillips was a fea­tured speak­er.

Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty has held at least eighty events tar­get­ing cap-and-trade leg­is­la­tion, which is aimed at mak­ing indus­tries pay for the air pol­lu­tion that they cre­ate. Speak­ers for the group claimed, with exag­ger­a­tion, that even back-yard bar­be­cues and kitchen stoves would be taxed. The group was also involved in the attacks on Obama’s “green jobs” czar, Van Jones, and waged a cru­sade against inter­na­tion­al cli­mate talks. Cast­ing his group as a cham­pi­on of ordi­nary work­ers who would be hurt by envi­ron­men­tal­ists, Phillips went to Copen­hagen last year and staged a protest out­side the Unit­ed Nations con­fer­ence on cli­mate change, declar­ing, “We’re a grass­roots orga­ni­za­tion. . . . I think it’s unfor­tu­nate when wealthy chil­dren of wealthy fam­i­lies . . . want to send unem­ploy­ment rates in the Unit­ed States up to twen­ty per cent.”

Grover Norquist, who holds a week­ly meet­ing for con­ser­v­a­tive lead­ers in Wash­ing­ton, includ­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty, told me that last summer’s rau­cous ral­lies were piv­otal in under­min­ing Obama’s agen­da. The Repub­li­can lead­er­ship in Con­gress, he said, “couldn’t have done it with­out August, when peo­ple went out on the streets. It dis­cour­aged deal-makers”—Republicans who might oth­er­wise have worked con­struc­tive­ly with Oba­ma. More­over, the appear­ance of grow­ing pub­lic oppo­si­tion to Oba­ma affect­ed cor­po­rate donors on K Street. “K Street is a three-bil­lion-dol­lar weath­er­vane,” Norquist said. “When Oba­ma was strong, the Cham­ber of Com­merce said, ‘We can work with the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion.’ But that changed when thou­sands of peo­ple went into the street and ‘ter­ror­ized’ con­gress­men. August is what changed it. Now that Oba­ma is weak, peo­ple are get­ting tough.”

As the first anniver­sary of Obama’s elec­tion approached, David Koch came to the Wash­ing­ton area to attend a tri­umphant Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty gath­er­ing. Obama’s poll num­bers were falling fast. Not a sin­gle Repub­li­can sen­a­tor was work­ing with the Admin­is­tra­tion on health care, or much else. Pun­dits were writ­ing about Obama’s polit­i­cal inep­ti­tude, and Tea Par­ty groups were accus­ing the Pres­i­dent of ini­ti­at­ing “a gov­ern­ment takeover.” In a speech, Koch said, “Days like today bring to real­i­ty the vision of our board of direc­tors when we start­ed this orga­ni­za­tion, five years ago.” He went on, “We envi­sioned a mass move­ment, a state-based one, but nation­al in scope, of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens from all walks of life stand­ing up and fight­ing for the eco­nom­ic free­doms that made our nation the most pros­per­ous soci­ety in his­to­ry. . . . Thank­ful­ly, the stir­rings from Cal­i­for­nia to Vir­ginia, and from Texas to Michi­gan, show that more and more of our fel­low-cit­i­zens are begin­ning to see the same truths as we do.”

While Koch didn’t explic­it­ly embrace the Tea Par­ty move­ment that day, more recent­ly he has come close to doing so, prais­ing it for demon­strat­ing the “pow­er­ful vis­cer­al hos­til­i­ty in the body politic against the mas­sive increase in gov­ern­ment pow­er, the mas­sive efforts to social­ize this coun­try.” Charles Koch, in a newslet­ter sent to his sev­en­ty thou­sand employ­ees, com­pared the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion to the regime of the Venezue­lan strong­man Hugo Chávez. The Kochs’ sense of imper­il­ment is some­what puz­zling. Income inequal­i­ty in Amer­i­ca is greater than it has been since the nine­teen-twen­ties, and since the sev­en­ties the tax rates of the wealth­i­est have fall­en more than those of the mid­dle class. Yet the broth­ers’ mes­sage has evi­dent­ly res­onat­ed with vot­ers: a recent poll found that fifty-five per cent of Amer­i­cans agreed that Oba­ma is a social­ist. . . .



53 comments for “FTR #726 The Kochtopus: The Tea Party Movement Manifests Classical Fascism”

  1. so rid­dle me this? how can Oba­ma be a Social­ist and in the pock­ets of the bankers simul­ta­ne­ous­ly??? Oxy­moron if ever saw one.

    Posted by leapinleopard | November 10, 2010, 10:07 pm
  2. Why do you refer to Chaves with the cor­po­rate framimg ‘strong­man’? He ekec­tion was more above board tham Bush’s? BTW I real­ly real­ly enjoy and often resource the fruits of your labors here. Thank You very much.

    Posted by J F | November 26, 2010, 11:14 pm
  3. [...] Dave Emory has been work­ing as well on the Koch broth­ers case for some time. In par­tic­u­lar, FTR #726 is of great inter­est to get acquaint­ed more with these shad­owy fig­ures of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. What [...]

    Posted by Republican Reverse Robbing Hoods, part II: The Koch brothers caught pants down | lys-dor.com | September 14, 2011, 10:21 am
  4. “Amer­i­cans Elect” is a non­prof­it cor­po­ra­tion reg­is­tered as a third par­ty in the Unit­ed States which plans to use an inter­net-based nom­i­nat­ing process to field a third-par­ty cor­po­ratist tick­et for the 2012 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    Despite being reg­is­tered as its own polit­i­cal par­ty, Amer­i­cans Elect describes its approach as non­par­ti­san. From the pool of can­di­dates select­ed in secre­cy by oli­garchs, peo­ple who reg­is­ter online will open­ly vote for their can­di­date of choice from that list.

    Amer­i­cans Elect claims to have gained bal­lot sta­tus in Ari­zona, Kansas, Neva­da, Michi­gan, Flori­da, Ohio, Alas­ka, Utah, Col­orado, Mis­sis­sip­pi, Cal­i­for­nia, Rhode Island and Arkansas.

    The orga­ni­za­tion is attempt­ing the process of being accred­it­ed in every US state, allow­ing it to place can­di­dates on pres­i­den­tial bal­lots nation­wide.


    Side com­ment: The result of this third-par­ty elec­toral manip­u­la­tion, in my opin­ion, is to engi­neer a 2012 pres­i­den­tial vote that will not reach the min­i­mum num­ber of elec­toral votes (270) required to win the elec­tion.

    This would (in accor­dance with the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion) throw the elec­tion into the (major­i­ty-Repub­li­can) House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, who would decide the pres­i­den­cy.

    This was last done in the U.S. elec­tion of 1824, in which John Quin­cy Adams was cho­sen pres­i­dent.

    How­ev­er, in my opin­ion, the goal is not to elect a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent. The goal has been to cre­ate a split Repub­li­can vote, to (a) elect a default unpop­u­lar Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­dent who can be a pat­sy scape­goat that will lever­age pop­u­lar sup­port for a mil­i­tary coup, and (b) elim­i­nate Rove/Cheney fin­ger­prints on a sub­se­quent mil­i­tary purge, intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty purge, and exe­cu­tions of key dis­si­dents (ala the Phoenix Pro­gram), using a Tea Par­ty Cat’s Paw such as a Pres­i­dent Palin who would be sworn in after a mass-casu­al­ty dis­as­ter in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. by “domes­tic Al Qae­da sym­pa­thiz­ers” who would wipe out nation­al-lev­el Democ­rats in a sin­gle event.

    The con­sor­tium “Amer­i­cans Elect” is being lit­tle-cov­ered (so far) in the U.S. press, but has sig­nif­i­cant­ly wealthy back­ers. Who, of course, wish to remain secret.



    Posted by R. Wilson | December 31, 2011, 9:09 pm
  5. Good Show and Hap­py New Year (!) R. Wil­son!

    Note that in the Amer­i­cans Elect imbroglio, we find Peter Ack­er­man and his broth­er Elliot.

    Check out the series on the Arab Spring.

    Peter Ack­er­man is the fun­der of Gene Sharp and deeply involved with the events sur­round­ing that great out­crop­ping of “democ­ra­cy.”

    So it is more than a lit­tle inter­est­ing to see him look­ing to have an (ahem) Amer­i­can Spring.

    To you and all the oth­er con­trib­u­tors, thanks and keep up the good work.

    Pro­gram pro­duc­tion will resume some­time in 2012, when cir­cum­stances per­mit.

    In the mean­time, I will con­tin­ue to post on this site.

    Hap­py New Year,


    Posted by Dave Emory | December 31, 2011, 11:49 pm
  6. @R. Wil­son: That actu­al­ly seems plau­si­ble, although I seri­ous­ly doubt that the vast major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans would sup­port an actu­al mil­i­tary coup.
    There may be some hope, how­ev­er, as that some Repub­li­cans are begin­ning to become dis­il­lu­sioned with the GOP and may end up vot­ing instead for some­one such as Ron Paul, which could very well back­fire on the U.R. giv­en that the GOP has been their favorite par­ty since those scum­bag Dix­iecrats start­ed tak­ing over in the late ’60s, and also giv­en that many Democ­rats still have a very bad mem­o­ry of 2000, when Nader’s game helped cause the tie that allowed Bush to steal the elec­tion.
    In any case, it may be a while before things get any better.....but at least peo­ple are wak­ing up.

    @Dave: Hope to see you in time for the next WFMU marathon!

    Posted by Steven l. | January 1, 2012, 1:02 pm
  7. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/07/koch-brothers-database-2012-election?fb=optOut&mid=56481

    Koch broth­ers: secre­tive bil­lion­aires to launch vast data­base with 2012 in mind

    David and Charles Koch, oil tycoons with strong right-wing views and con­nec­tions, look set to tight­en their grip on US pol­i­tics

    Ed Pilk­ing­ton in New York
    guardian.co.uk, Mon­day 7 Novem­ber 2011

    The secre­tive oil bil­lion­aires the Koch broth­ers are close to launch­ing a nation­wide data­base con­nect­ing mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who share their anti-gov­ern­ment and lib­er­tar­i­an views, a move that will fur­ther enhance the tycoons’ polit­i­cal influ­ence and that could prove sig­nif­i­cant in next year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    The data­base will give con­crete form to the vast net­work of alliances that David and Charles Koch have cul­ti­vat­ed over the past 20 years on the right of US pol­i­tics. The broth­ers, whose per­son­al wealth has been put at $25bn each, were a major force behind the cre­ation of the tea par­ty move­ment and enjoy close ties to lead­ing con­ser­v­a­tive politi­cians, financiers, busi­ness peo­ple, media fig­ures and US supreme court judges.

    The vot­er file was set up by the Kochs 18 months ago with $2.5m of their seed mon­ey, and is being devel­oped by a hand-picked team of the broth­ers’ advis­ers. It has been giv­en the name Themis, after the Greek god­dess who impos­es divine order on human affairs.

    In clas­sic Koch style, the project is being con­duct­ed in great secre­cy. Karl Crow, a Wash­ing­ton-based lawyer and Koch advis­er who is lead­ing the devel­op­ment, did not respond to requests for com­ment. Nor did media rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Koch Indus­tries, the broth­ers’ glob­al ener­gy com­pa­ny based in Wichi­ta, Kansas.

    But a mem­ber of a Koch affil­i­ate organ­i­sa­tion who is a spe­cial­ist in the polit­i­cal uses of new tech­nol­o­gy and who is famil­iar with Themis said the project was in the final prepara­to­ry stages. Ask­ing not to be named, he said: “They are doing a lot of analy­sis and test­ing. Final­ly they’re get­ting Themis off the ground.”

    The data­base will bring togeth­er infor­ma­tion from a pletho­ra of right-wing groups, tea par­ty organ­i­sa­tions and con­ser­v­a­tive-lean­ing think­tanks. Each one has valu­able data on their mem­ber­ship – includ­ing per­son­al email address­es and phone num­bers, as well as more gen­er­al infor­ma­tion use­ful to polit­i­cal cam­paign strate­gists such as occu­pa­tion, income brack­et and so on.

    By pool­ing the infor­ma­tion, the hope is to cre­ate a data resource that is far more potent than the sum of its parts. Themis will in effect become an elec­toral roll of right-wing Amer­i­ca, allow­ing the Koch broth­ers to fur­ther enhance their pow­er base in a way that is sym­pa­thet­ic to, but whol­ly inde­pen­dent of, the Repub­li­can par­ty.

    “This will take time to ful­ly realise, but it has the poten­tial to become a very pow­er­ful tool in 2012 and beyond,” said the new tech­nol­o­gy spe­cial­ist.

    Themis has been mod­elled in part on the scheme cre­at­ed by the left after the defeat of John Ker­ry in the 2004 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Cat­a­lyst, a vot­er list that shared data on sup­port­ers of pro­gres­sive groups and cam­paigns, was an impor­tant part of the process that saw the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty pick itself off the floor and refo­cus its elec­toral ener­gies, help­ing to pro­pel Barack Oba­ma to the White House in 2008.

    Josh Hendler, who until ear­li­er this year was the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee’s direc­tor of tech­nol­o­gy in charge of the par­ty’s vot­er files, believes Themis could do for the Kochs what Cat­a­lyst helped do for the Democ­rats.

    “This increas­es the Koch broth­ers’ reach. It will allow them to become even greater co-ordi­na­tors than they are already – with this resource they become a nat­ur­al cen­tre of grav­i­ty for con­ser­v­a­tives,” Hendler said.
    { ... }

    By dint of the secre­cy sur­round­ing the project, it is not known which bod­ies have signed up for the data­base. But it is a rea­son­able guess that groups that are high­ly influ­en­tial with­in the tea par­ty move­ment such as Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty and Free­dom­works, as well as right-wing think tanks like the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, will be among the par­tic­i­pants. Between them, they have ten­ta­cles that extend to mil­lions of vot­ers.

    Lee Fang, a blog­ger at the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress, thinks the com­bi­na­tion of the Kochs’ cap­i­tal and their new vot­er files could have an immense impact in 2012. “This will be the first major elec­tion where most of the data and the organ­is­ing will be done out­side the par­ty nexus. The Kochs have the poten­tial to out­spend and out-per­form the Repub­li­can par­ty and even the suc­cess­ful Repub­li­can can­di­date.”

    Posted by R. Wilson | January 1, 2012, 8:54 pm
  8. And then there were three:

    Koch Broth­ers Bat­tle For Con­trol Of Cato Insti­tute
    Nick R. Mar­tin March 1, 2012, 1:17 PM

    Bil­lion­aire broth­ers David and Charles Koch launched a legal bat­tle Wednes­day over con­trol of the Cato Insti­tute, the influ­en­tial lib­er­tar­i­an think tank one of them helped found near­ly 40 years ago.

    The Kochs filed a law­suit in Kansas, where the insti­tute was cre­at­ed, demand­ing that the wid­ow of its long­time chair­man give back his shares of the non­prof­it com­pa­ny.

    In a copy of the law­suit [PDF] post­ed online by Politi­co, the Kochs say they believe the wid­ow of for­mer chair­man William Niska­nen, who died in Octo­ber, is barred from hang­ing onto his shares based on an agree­ment Niska­nen signed when he joined the think tank in 1985.

    The suit pro­vides a look behind the scenes of the influ­en­tial orga­ni­za­tion as well as the lives of its wealthy lead­ers.


    Orig­i­nal­ly found­ed in 1974 as the Charles Koch Foun­da­tion, the Cato Insti­tute set­tled on its cur­rent name two years lat­er.


    In recent years, the only four peo­ple to own shares of the orga­ni­za­tion were the Koch broth­ers, Niska­nen and co-founder Edward Crane III. Each had 25 per­cent vot­ing inter­est, accord­ing to the suit.

    The law­suit said all the share­hold­ers signed agree­ments pledg­ing not to give or sell their shares to any­one else before first offer­ing them to the Cato Insti­tute. The broth­ers want the Kansas judge to force Wash­burn, who is the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of her late husband’s will, to offer his shares to the Insti­tute so they can pur­chase them back from her.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 1, 2012, 11:46 am
  9. It’s nev­er too late to ask over­due ques­tions:

    The New York­er
    March 5, 2012
    Kochs vs. Cato, Round Two
    Post­ed by Jane May­er

    It’s real­ly inter­est­ing to watch lib­er­tar­i­ans’ ris­ing sense of dis­be­lief and out­rage over the Koch broth­ers’ attempt to take over the Cato Insti­tute, the most promi­nent and respect­ed lib­er­tar­i­an think tank in the coun­try. Sud­den­ly, many for­mer defend­ers of the Kochs are begin­ning to ques­tion the intel­lec­tu­al integri­ty and polit­i­cal puri­ty of their bene­fac­tors. In one sense, it seems a pet­ty and per­son­al squab­ble with­in a small polit­i­cal fac­tion. But from anoth­er stand­point, the stakes are much high­er, putting to the test the lin­ger­ing ques­tion of whether lib­er­tar­i­an­ism is in fact a non-par­ti­san intel­lec­tu­al move­ment, as its adher­ents insist, or just a fan­cy-sound­ing name for a sub­set of the Repub­li­can Par­ty, aimed at enhanc­ing the wealth and pow­er of its deep-pock­et­ed donors.

    Clear­ly, many lib­er­tar­i­ans who have long been fund­ed by the Kochs gen­uine­ly believe that their cause is about pro­mot­ing indi­vid­ual lib­er­ty and peace by reduc­ing the role of the government—in oth­er words, lofty, laud­able goals, not just some hack­ish par­ti­san polit­i­cal agen­da. Sud­den­ly, how­ev­er, they are con­front­ed with the news that the Koch broth­ers, who con­trol half the seats on Cato’s board, have, as the Cato Chair­man Bob Levy told the Wash­ing­ton Post, been choos­ing “Koch oper­a­tives,” their goal being to align the insti­tute more close­ly with the Repub­li­can Par­ty.

    Indeed, sev­er­al eye-open­ing insid­er accounts appeared over the week­end, sug­gest­ing that what Charles Koch, the C.E.O. of Koch Indus­tries, essen­tial­ly wants is to trans­form Cato into an “ammo” shop, man­u­fac­tur­ing what­ev­er ord­nance it takes stop Pres­i­dent Oba­ma from get­ting re-elect­ed next Novem­ber. In a fas­ci­nat­ing post appear­ing at the Volokh Con­spir­a­cy, Jer­ry Tay­lor, a senior fel­low at the Cato Insti­tute, writes about a meet­ing last Novem­ber between, on one side, David Koch and sev­er­al Koch func­tionar­ies, and, on the oth­er, Cato Chair­man Bob Levy:

    They told Bob that they intend­ed to use their board major­i­ty to remove Ed Crane from Cato and trans­form our Insti­tute into an intel­lec­tu­al ammo-shop for Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty and oth­er allied (pre­sum­ably, Koch-con­trolled) orga­ni­za­tions.

    Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty, co-found­ed and heav­i­ly fund­ed by David Koch, is an osten­si­bly non-par­ti­san advo­ca­cy group, but, accord­ing to Tay­lor, the Koch faction’s com­plaint about Cato was that he “wasn’t doing enough to defeat Pres­i­dent Oba­ma in Novem­ber and that we weren’t work­ing close­ly enough with grass roots activists like those at AFP.”

    As proof that the Kochs are more inter­est­ed in achiev­ing Repub­li­can vic­to­ry than in pro­mot­ing lib­er­tar­i­an­ism, Tay­lor goes on to exam­ine their can­di­dates for Cato’s board, not­ing that the ros­ter includes indi­vid­u­als who have derid­ed lib­er­tar­i­ans, opposed gay rights, and sup­port­ed for­mer Pres­i­dent George W. Bush and the Iraq War, in defi­ance of lib­er­tar­i­an prin­ci­ples. In sum­ma­ry, Tay­lor declares that the Kochs’ insis­tence that they are mere­ly insur­ing that Cato hews to its prin­ci­ples, is, in a word, “dis­hon­est.”


    And Jonathan Blanks, a researcher at Cato, wrote a crit­i­cal post of his own about the sit­u­a­tion in which he said, “Just because we sup­port legal­ized pros­ti­tu­tion doesn’t mean we want to live it.”

    The wake-up call to the lib­er­tar­i­an move­ment con­cern­ing its bene­fac­tors’ par­ti­san polit­i­cal ambi­tions seems a bit over­due to some of those who have been watch­ing close­ly dur­ing the past few years. As Bruce Bartlett, a con­ser­v­a­tive econ­o­mist who was drummed out of the Nation­al Cen­ter for Pol­i­cy Analy­sis for crit­i­ciz­ing Pres­i­dent Bush, told me yes­ter­day, “This is not all togeth­er sur­pris­ing. It hap­pened at the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute to David Frum. Stay­ing on the good side of the Repub­li­can Par­ty was more impor­tant than main­tain­ing its integri­ty. The con­ser­v­a­tive right-wing Repub­li­cans who fund all these places now see they can serve their own agen­da of pay­ing no tax­es, and screw­ing the hell out of the poor. They’ve drunk their own Kool-Aid on Oba­ma. They see the guil­lo­tine around the cor­ner, and they want to do any­thing they can to stop it.”


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 7, 2012, 8:46 am
  10. eek! Some­thing sleazy and filthy is emerg­ing from the shad­ows! It’s a vam­pire!

    Oh wait, no, false alarm. It’s just David Koch.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 4, 2012, 11:01 pm
  11. The Koch broth­ers want you all to know that they’re now super con­cerned with cor­po­rate wel­fare. If you haven’t heard from them about their con­cerns yet, don’t wor­ry. You will:

    The Kochs’ quest to save Amer­i­ca
    By Bill Wil­son and Roy Wen­zl
    Wichi­ta Eagle
    Post­ed on Sat, Oct. 13, 2012 06:00 PM

    WICHITA, Kansas — In Jan­u­ary 2009, just days after the inau­gu­ra­tion of Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, Charles and David Koch met in their com­pa­ny head­quar­ters in Wichi­ta with their long­time polit­i­cal strate­gist, Rich Fink.

    The coun­try was head­ed toward bank­rupt­cy, they agreed. Fink told them blunt­ly that Obama’s admin­is­tra­tion rep­re­sent­ed the worst of what Charles and David fear most: a bloat­ed, reg­u­la­tion-heavy, free-spend­ing gov­ern­ment that could plunge the coun­try into anoth­er deep reces­sion. That day, Fink advised two of the rich­est men in the nation that it would be the fight of their lives to stop the gov­ern­ment spend­ing spree and to change the course of the coun­try, start­ing with the 2012 elec­tion.

    “If we are going to do this, we should do it right or not at all,” Fink, 61, recalled telling the broth­ers. “But if we don’t do it right or if we don’t do it at all, we will be insignif­i­cant and we will just waste a lot of time and I would rather play golf. “And if we do it right, then it is going to get very, very ugly.”


    Note that this isn’t that oth­er noto­ri­ous secret US far-right elite meet­ing that took place right after Oba­ma’s 2009 inau­gu­ra­tion where GOP heavy­weights planned their upcom­ing four year “insur­gency”(their words). That meet­ing hap­pened the night of the inau­gua­ra­tion. The Koch’s meet­ing — where they planned to “get very very ugly” — hap­pened a few day lat­er.


    Three and a half years lat­er, Oba­ma accused the Koch broth­ers of engi­neer­ing “a cor­po­rate takeover of our democ­ra­cy.”

    The broth­ers’ polit­i­cal spend­ing and the net­work of con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions and think tanks they fund have sparked protests.

    Two years of con­dem­na­tions and crit­i­cism prompt­ed Charles Koch to break his silence about pol­i­tics. In his most exten­sive inter­view in 15 years, Charles Koch, along with his fam­i­ly and friends, talked about why he wants to defeat Oba­ma and elect mem­bers of Con­gress who will stop what he calls cat­a­stroph­ic over­spend­ing.

    Gov­ern­ment reck­less­ness threat­ens the coun­try and his busi­ness, he said.

    The Kochs say the price for their polit­i­cal involve­ment has been high: Death threats, cyber­at­tacks on their busi­ness, hun­dreds of news sto­ries crit­i­ciz­ing them, calls for boy­cotts of the company’s con­sumer goods, and what the broth­ers see as ongo­ing and unjus­ti­fied pub­lic attacks from the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion.
    cor­po­rate and agri­cul­tur­al sub­si­dies.

    The coun­try must deal with cor­po­rate wel­fare, which they say exceeds $350 bil­lion a year, before it can rein in spend­ing on Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare, Fink said.nn

    “How is any Amer­i­can going to feel good about reform­ing Medicare, Med­ic­aid and Social Secu­ri­ty when there is so much crony­ism going on with these com­pa­nies, and busi­ness­men are mak­ing off with so many tax dol­lars?” Fink asked.


    The broth­ers say they are tak­ing risks by speak­ing out. Mark Hold­en, Koch Indus­tries’ senior vice pres­i­dent and gen­er­al coun­sel, said there has been a pro­gres­sion of attacks and lies about the com­pa­ny since Obama’s elec­tion, includ­ing:

    Sum­mer 2010: Aus­tan Gools­bee, then Obama’s chief eco­nom­ic advis­er, com­ment­ed on Koch Indus­tries’ tax sta­tus dur­ing a brief­ing with reporters in Wash­ing­ton, accus­ing the com­pa­ny of not pay­ing tax­es.

    Under fed­er­al law, it’s a crime to improp­er­ly access or dis­close con­fi­den­tial tax infor­ma­tion, accord­ing to Hold­en, who sus­pects the admin­is­tra­tion was try­ing to intim­i­date them because of their polit­i­cal views.

    “It was false and mali­cious, too,” Hold­en said. “We pay a lot of tax­es.”

    May 2012: Stephanie Cut­ter, Obama’s deputy cam­paign man­ag­er, said in a video that the cam­paign is “going to call their BS,” ref­er­enc­ing the Kochs.

    “Real­ly?” Hold­en said. “If my kids said that to me, they’d be going to their room. This is the deputy cam­paign man­ag­er? This is the dis­course in this coun­try?”
    May 2012: David Axel­rod, Obama’s senior polit­i­cal con­sul­tant, told the media in a tele­phone con­fer­ence that Mitt Rom­ney is being aid­ed by “the (polit­i­cal strate­gist) Karl (Rove) and Koch broth­ers’ con­tract killers in super PAC land,” accord­ing to news accounts.

    “And when you have Axel­rod, one of (Obama’s) top cam­paign offi­cials, say­ing we are con­tract killers — I mean, I don’t know how some­body in the admin­is­tra­tion can say that about a pri­vate cit­i­zen,” said Charles Koch. “The attacks are unbe­liev­able.”

    “It’s fright­en­ing because you don’t know what they’re going to do,” he said. “They have tremen­dous pow­er. They can destroy just about any­body, whether you are total­ly inno­cent or not.”


    We can all be sure that two of the top pow­er mon­gers in the nation are real­ly ter­ri­fied of Oba­ma. They are help­less cit­i­zens that don’t con­trol a vast pri­vate glob­al busi­ness empire and propaganda/thinktank net­work. And they cer­tain­ly don’t con­trol the vig­i­lante jus­tice squad that recent­ly kid­napped a senior Koch Indus­tries exec­u­tive that they sus­pect­ed of cor­rup­tion. Nope

    Skip­ping down...


    Jacobs, the Min­neso­ta polit­i­cal sci­en­tist, calls the Kochs the power­bro­kers of the Repub­li­can Par­ty, but warns that if Rom­ney los­es they may be ostra­cized.

    The Amer­i­can busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty, Jacobs said, is almost cer­tain to take a dim view of the Kochs’ move against cor­po­rate sub­si­dies.

    “Once you get into the oth­er things busi­ness­es rely upon — sub­si­dies and tax exemp­tions — there’s a ten­sion between the Koch broth­ers and main­stream busi­ness that hasn’t played itself out yet.”

    The Kochs real­ize as they pre­pare for their cam­paign to end cor­po­rate sub­si­dies that they are about to become even more unpop­u­lar with polit­i­cal par­ties and spe­cial-inter­est groups that depend on gov­ern­ment.

    But through­out the his­to­ry of the world there have been small groups of peo­ple who have changed soci­ety, Fink said.

    They aren’t back­ing down.

    “We believe Amer­i­ca is at a tip­ping point,” Fink said. “That with our debt, with our gov­ern­ment spend­ing, if you look at the eco­nom­ics of it, it is total­ly unsus­tain­able. … We are in the process of destroy­ing Amer­i­ca, of destroy­ing the Amer­i­can dream. We believe just like the … Amer­i­can rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies did, there is going to be a small group of peo­ple who stand up and fight to save the coun­try. Oth­er­wise we have lost it.”

    Yes, yes, the Koch broth­ers are just like the Amer­i­can rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies. A cou­ple of mod­ern day George John Wash­ing­ton Galts, those two. Grant­ed, they did­n’t invent Galt’s elec­tro­sta­t­ic motor, but their dad, Fred, made his for­tune improv­ing the process of “crack­ing” crude oil (and then sold the tech­nol­o­gy to Stal­in after the US oil barons used buried Fred in fraud­u­lent patent infringe­ment law­suits to lock Fred out of the US mar­kets at the height of the dereg­u­la­to­ry fever of the roar­ing ’20’s. Pesky reg­u­la­tions!). So at least Fred total­ly gets par­tial-Galt cred­it. Fred’s kids? Eh.... Stll, with a pair of Koch Indus­tries mup­pets pos­si­bly about to take the White House if every­thing goes well for them on elec­tion day, it’s under­stand­able that our oli­garchs might feel that they’ll be able to con­vince the Amer­i­can pub­lic to “touch the cheeseone last time. That old moldy piece of cheese that nev­er com­plete­ly degrades but just sits there get­ting increas­ing­ly stale.

    Now the cheese will aquire a new mold patch with an faux-anti-cor­po­rate-wel­fare green­ish hue. Grow­ing green­er and moldier. Until it inevitably wash­es away and the unfor­tu­nate sur­vivors of the cheese-touch era can final­ly move on.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 20, 2012, 5:45 pm
  12. Clas­si­cal Fas­cism:
    Talk host Michael Sav­age calls for “Nation­al­ist Par­ty”

    “Dur­ing an inter­view on “Aaron Klein Inves­tiga­tive Radio” on Sun­day, con­ser­v­a­tive radio host Michael Sav­age said that the Unit­ed States needs a third, nation­al­ist par­ty.

    “There is no Repub­li­can Par­ty,” he said in remarks first car­ried by the WND polit­i­cal news site. “It’s an appendage of the Demo­c­rat machine, as we’ve all just seen.”

    Sav­age crit­i­cized the cur­rent lead­ers of the Repub­li­can and Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ties, call­ing Speak­er John Boehn­er “drunk” and Pres­i­dent Oba­ma a “qua­si-pseu­do-cryp­to Marx­ist,” accord­ing to Buz­zFeed.
    Dur­ing the inter­view, Sav­age point­ed to the tea par­ty as a can­di­date should there be a “charis­mat­ic leader” as well as par­ty restruc­tur­ing.
    “I could do it if I was 20 years younger. I would do it right now. But I’m not 20 years younger and I don’t have 20 years left in me. This is going to require enor­mous resource and enor­mous ener­gy,” he told Aaron Klein.

    How­ev­er, he did accept the role as an edu­ca­tor through his show, teach­ing lis­ten­ers what nation­al­ism is real­ly about, WND reports.

    “Nation­al­ism is the only thing that can save Amer­i­ca, and a new nation­al­ist par­ty that has a very strict fire­wall that does not per­mit the rad­i­cal fringe of racism,” he said. “Bor­ders, lan­guage, cul­ture – it defines every nation on the plan­et, the flag, the lan­guage, the bor­ders. And what is it the inter­na­tion­al­ists do? They want to dis­solve the bor­ders, they want to intro­duce mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, they want to intro­duce a Tow­er of Babel of lan­guages.”


    Angry old bas­tard.
    I’m sure the Con­fed­er­a­cy would go for it, split­ting the Repub­li­can vote.
    Still, unnerv­ing at the least...

    “How­ev­er, he did accept the role as an edu­ca­tor through his show, teach­ing lis­ten­ers what nation­al­ism is real­ly about”


    Posted by Swamp | January 9, 2013, 9:29 am
  13. Mus­soli­ni much?

    Repub­li­can Steve Lavin Wants to Give Cor­po­ra­tions the Right to Vote

    Areej Elahi-Sid­diqui

    The Unit­ed States has seen the right to vote be extend­ed from strict­ly land-own­ing white males to minori­ties of all kinds and all women over time — albeit not with­out a fight. Now it seems if Mon­tana Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve Lavin gets his way, cor­po­ra­tions will also have the right to vote.

    This shouldn’t ful­ly come as a sur­prise; GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mitt Rom­ney did say a while ago that “cor­po­ra­tions are peo­ple.” How­ev­er, the fact that a law­mak­er has actu­al­ly intro­duced a bill that would give cor­po­ra­tions the right to vote is a lit­tle unset­tling.

    The bill, which luck­i­ly has been tabled for now, holds:

    “Pro­vi­sion for vote by cor­po­rate prop­er­ty own­er. (1) Sub­ject to sub­sec­tion (2), if a firm, part­ner­ship, com­pa­ny, or cor­po­ra­tion owns real prop­er­ty with­in the munic­i­pal­i­ty, the pres­i­dent, vice pres­i­dent, sec­re­tary, or oth­er designee of the enti­ty is eli­gi­ble to vote in a munic­i­pal elec­tion as pro­vid­ed in [sec­tion 1].

    (2) The indi­vid­ual who is des­ig­nat­ed to vote by the enti­ty is sub­ject to the pro­vi­sions of [sec­tion 1] and shall also pro­vide to the elec­tion admin­is­tra­tor doc­u­men­ta­tion of the entity’s reg­is­tra­tion with the sec­re­tary of state under 35–1‑217 and proof of the individual’s des­ig­na­tion to vote on behalf of the enti­ty.”

    Sec­tion 3 con­tin­ues to define real prop­er­ty as: “means lands, struc­tures, build­ings, and inter­ests in land, includ­ing lands under water and ripar­i­an rights, and all things and rights usu­al­ly includ­ed with­in the term “real prop­er­ty,” includ­ing not only fee sim­ple absolute but also all less­er inter­ests, such as ease­ments, rights-of-way, uses, leas­es, licens­es, and all oth­er incor­po­re­al hered­i­ta­ments and every estate, inter­est, or right, legal or equi­table, per­tain­ing to real prop­er­ty.”

    In oth­er words, being a non-res­i­dent prop­er­ty own­er of just about any­thing will grant you the right to vote in Kalispell, Montana’s city coun­cil elec­tion via a mail bal­lot. The impli­ca­tion? This means that own­ers of cor­po­ra­tions such as Wal­mart now may legal­ly have a say in the hap­pen­ings of a small town in Mon­tana.

    There are cer­tain restric­tions in the bill on these cor­po­rate rights. For exam­ple, the cor­po­ra­tion or non-res­i­dent prop­er­ty own­er would not be allowed to vote in school elec­tions. As of now, the bill would only per­tain to munic­i­pal elec­tions; but if some­thing such as this actu­al­ly pass­es, such mea­sures could poten­tial­ly tran­spire to state and fed­er­al lev­els, a scary thought in itself.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 25, 2013, 2:42 pm
  14. Texas tea par­ty leader pro­motes Fas­cist Par­ty as ‘pro-Con­sti­tu­tion, pro-Amer­i­ca’
    By David Edwards


    A tea par­ty leader in Texas is defend­ing his pro­mo­tion of the Amer­i­can Fas­cist Par­ty as some­thing he thought was “pro-Con­sti­tu­tion, pro-Amer­i­ca.”

    James Ives, who was list­ed as the pres­i­dent of the Greater Fort Bend Coun­ty Tea Par­ty in 2011, con­firmed to The Texas Tri­bune on Mon­day that he had made a pro­mo­tion­al video for the Amer­i­can Fas­cist Par­ty and advo­cat­ed tea par­ty prin­ci­ples on a Fas­cist Par­ty mes­sage board.

    In the video, a man who looks like Ives sits in front of a Fas­cist Par­ty logo wear­ing a uni­form with yel­low shoul­der patch­es. Anoth­er pho­to shows a uni­formed man sit­ting in front of a fas­cist cross. The blog that inspired Nor­we­gian mass shoot­er Anders Behring Breivik describes fas­cist solar cross­es as “sym­bol­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tions buried deep in the regions of the brain where the pri­mal respons­es to stim­uli are rage, awe, and fear.”

    But Ives says that he was sim­ply curi­ous when he came to the Fas­cist Par­ty as an “ama­teur polit­i­cal sci­ence stu­dent and frus­trat­ed nov­el­ist” in the ear­ly 2000s.

    “From my point of view, it was all pro-Con­sti­tu­tion, pro-Amer­i­ca,” Ives explained to the Tri­bune. “I nev­er did any­thing… There real­ly weren’t enough peo­ple involved to be a gath­er­ing, let alone a ral­ly. It was basi­cal­ly a scat­ter­ing of peo­ple across the con­ti­nent just com­plain­ing.”

    The tea par­ty leader claimed that he his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Fas­cist Par­ty was part of an effort to write a nov­el about what he thought was a cabal. But instead of writ­ing that nov­el, Ives wrote on the mes­sage board about how build­ing the Fas­cist Par­ty in Amer­i­ca was “our spir­it, our call­ing.”

    “It will be our great­est chal­lenge, and our sweet­est vic­to­ry, to final­ly sur­pass this dark men­ace, this numb­ing threat from the shad­ows, and replace it with the pure sun­beam that is our Fas­cist Faith, our Fas­cist Truth,” Ives wrote.

    Repub­li­can state Sen. Dan Patrick pledged not to host Ives on his radio show in the future if the links to the Fas­cist Par­ty proved to be true.

    Patrick called the tea par­ty leader’s involve­ment with the fas­cist move­ment “very dis­turb­ing, no mat­ter how far in the past it is.” The state sen­a­tor insist­ed that Ives had “nev­er been on our pay­roll, nev­er been an employ­ee.”

    (Watch this video from James Ives, uploaded in 2006.)


    There is indeed a video with the arti­cle, but it’s a real hack job. Some sym­bols and pic­tures of the guy dressed up as a fas­cist leader with cheesy bub­ble-gum music in the back­ground.
    I guess “Ser­pents” need to learn to crawl before they can “Walk”.

    Posted by Swamp | March 19, 2013, 7:44 am
  15. It looks like the Koch broth­ers are expand­ing their per­son­al “free-speech” empires to include a media empire. Con­sid­er­ing that Cit­i­zens Unit­ed made it cer­tain that the dynam­ic duo would be buy­ing up mas­sive vol­umes of media ad space for years to come, the Koch’s lat­est attempt at demo­c­ra­t­ic civ­il inde­cen­cy is prob­a­bly a decent invest­ment:

    The New York Times
    Con­ser­v­a­tive Koch Broth­ers Turn­ing Focus to News­pa­pers

    Pub­lished: April 20, 2013

    Three years ago, Charles and David Koch, the bil­lion­aire indus­tri­al­ists and sup­port­ers of lib­er­tar­i­an caus­es, held a sem­i­nar of like-mind­ed, wealthy polit­i­cal donors at the St. Reg­is Resort in Aspen, Colo. They laid out a three-pronged, 10-year strat­e­gy to shift the coun­try toward a small­er gov­ern­ment with less reg­u­la­tion and tax­es.

    he first two pieces of the strat­e­gy — edu­cat­ing grass-roots activists and influ­enc­ing pol­i­tics — were not sur­pris­ing, giv­en the mon­ey they have giv­en to pol­i­cy insti­tutes and polit­i­cal action groups. But the third one was: media.

    Oth­er than financ­ing a few fringe lib­er­tar­i­an pub­li­ca­tions, the Kochs have most­ly avoid­ed media invest­ments. Now, Koch Indus­tries, the sprawl­ing pri­vate com­pa­ny of which Charles G. Koch serves as chair­man and chief exec­u­tive, is explor­ing a bid to buy the Tri­bune Company’s eight region­al news­pa­pers, includ­ing The Los Ange­les Times, The Chica­go Tri­bune, The Bal­ti­more Sun, The Orlan­do Sen­tinel and The Hart­ford Courant.

    By ear­ly May, the Tri­bune Com­pa­ny is expect­ed to send finan­cial data to seri­ous suit­ors in what will be among the largest sales of news­pa­pers by cir­cu­la­tion in the coun­try. Koch Indus­tries is among those inter­est­ed, said sev­er­al peo­ple with direct knowl­edge of the sale who spoke on the con­di­tion they not be named. Tri­bune emerged from bank­rupt­cy on Dec. 31 and has hired JPMor­gan Chase and Ever­core Part­ners to sell its print prop­er­ties.

    The papers, val­ued at rough­ly $623 mil­lion, would be a finan­cial­ly diminu­tive deal for Koch Indus­tries, the ener­gy and man­u­fac­tur­ing con­glom­er­ate based in Wichi­ta, Kan., with annu­al rev­enue of about $115 bil­lion.

    Polit­i­cal­ly, how­ev­er, the papers could serve as a broad­er plat­form for the Kochs’ lais­sez-faire ideas. The Los Ange­les Times is the fourth-largest paper in the coun­try, and The Tri­bune is No. 9, and oth­ers are in sev­er­al bat­tle­ground states, includ­ing two of the largest news­pa­pers in Flori­da, The Orlan­do Sen­tinel and The Sun Sen­tinel in Fort Laud­erdale. A deal could include Hoy, the sec­ond-largest Span­ish-lan­guage dai­ly news­pa­per, which speaks to the piv­otal His­pan­ic demo­graph­ic.

    One per­son who attend­ed the Aspen sem­i­nar who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty described the strat­e­gy as fol­lows: “It was nev­er ‘How do we destroy the oth­er side?’ ”

    “It was ‘How do we make sure our voice is being heard?’ ”

    Guests at the Aspen sem­i­nar includ­ed Philip F. Anschutz, the Repub­li­can oil mogul who owns the com­pa­nies that pub­lish The Wash­ing­ton Exam­in­er, The Okla­homan and The Week­ly Stan­dard, and the hedge fund exec­u­tive Paul E. Singer, who sits on the board of the polit­i­cal mag­a­zine Com­men­tary. Atten­dees were asked not to dis­cuss details about the sem­i­nar with the press.

    A per­son who has attend­ed oth­er Koch Indus­tries sem­i­nars, which have tak­en place since 2003, says Charles and David Koch have nev­er said they want to take over news­pa­pers or oth­er large media out­lets, but they often say “they see the con­ser­v­a­tive voice as not being well rep­re­sent­ed.” The Kochs plan to host anoth­er con­fer­ence at the end of the month, in Palm Springs, Calif.

    At this ear­ly stage, the think­ing inside the Tri­bune Com­pa­ny, the peo­ple close to the deal said, is that Koch Indus­tries could prove the most appeal­ing buy­er. Oth­ers inter­est­ed, includ­ing a group of wealthy Los Ange­les res­i­dents led by the bil­lion­aire Eli Broad and Ronald W. Burkle, both promi­nent Demo­c­ra­t­ic donors, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Cor­po­ra­tion, would pre­fer to buy only The Los Ange­les Times.

    The Tri­bune Com­pa­ny has sig­naled it prefers to sell all eight papers and their back-office oper­a­tions as a bun­dle. (Tri­bune, a $7 bil­lion media com­pa­ny that also owns 23 tele­vi­sion sta­tions, could also decide to keep the papers if they do not attract a high enough offer.)


    One per­son who has pre­vi­ous­ly advised Koch Indus­tries said the Tri­bune Com­pa­ny papers were con­sid­ered an invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ty, and were viewed as entire­ly sep­a­rate from Charles and David Kochs’ life­long mis­sion to shrink the size of gov­ern­ment.


    Seton Mot­ley, pres­i­dent of Less Gov­ern­ment, an orga­ni­za­tion devot­ed to shrink­ing the role of the gov­ern­ment, said the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion rein­forced the view that con­ser­v­a­tives need­ed a broad­er media pres­ence.

    “A run­ning joke among con­ser­v­a­tives as we watched the G.O.P. estab­lish­ment spend $500 mil­lion on inef­fec­tu­al TV ads is ‘Why don’t you just buy NBC?’ ” Mr. Mot­ley said. “It’s good the Kochs are talk­ing about fight­ing fire with a lit­tle fire.”

    Koch Indus­tries has for years felt the main­stream media unfair­ly cov­ered the com­pa­ny and its found­ing fam­i­ly because of its polit­i­cal beliefs. KochFacts.com, a Web site run by the com­pa­ny, dis­putes per­ceived press inac­cu­ra­cies. The site, which asserts lib­er­al bias in the news media, has pub­lished pri­vate e‑mail con­ver­sa­tions between com­pa­ny press offi­cers and jour­nal­ists, includ­ing the Politi­co reporter Ken­neth P. Vogel and edi­tors at The New York­er in response to an arti­cle about the Kochs by Jane May­er.

    “So far, they haven’t seemed to be par­tic­u­lar­ly enthu­si­as­tic about the role of the free press,” Ms. May­er said in an e‑mail, “but hope­ful­ly, if they become news­pa­per pub­lish­ers, they’ll embrace it with a bit more enthu­si­asm.”


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 21, 2013, 7:33 pm
  16. David Koch can’t fig­ure out why peo­ple think he’s a greedy mon­ster so he’s start­ing a pub­lic rela­tions cam­paign focused on pro­mot­ing ideas that uplift the poor. Ideas like get­ting rid of the min­i­mum wage:

    Charles Koch launch­ing Wichi­ta cam­paign about eco­nom­ic free­dom, gov­ern­ment over­reach

    By Roy Wen­zl
    The Wichi­ta Eagle

    Pub­lished Tues­day, July 9, 2013, at 9:05 p.m.
    Updat­ed Wednes­day, July 10, 2013, at 11 a.m

    Charles Koch, who runs Koch Indus­tries and con­tributes to polit­i­cal groups and cam­paigns, said he will launch a new cam­paign on Wednes­day to laud eco­nom­ic free­dom and warn the pub­lic about gov­ern­ment over­reach.

    He knows this means he will again draw fire from polit­i­cal crit­ics. His mem­o­ry of the 2012 polit­i­cal cam­paign is still fresh. Peo­ple said he tried to buy elec­tions, and he recalls crit­ics call­ing him names.

    “Evil Koch broth­er,” he said. “Greedy and stuff.”

    In that cam­paign, con­duct­ed most­ly out of the lime­light, he spent mil­lions (he has not said how much) help­ing 2012 can­di­dates oppose Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and sup­port con­ser­v­a­tive and lib­er­tar­i­an eco­nom­ic poli­cies.

    The effort begin­ning this week will cost the Charles Koch Foun­da­tion about $200,000 and run as a media cam­paign in Wichi­ta for four weeks, he said. If peo­ple like it, he said, he might expand it to oth­er cities.

    The point of it, Koch said, is that he believes pros­per­i­ty grows where eco­nom­ic free­dom is great­est, where gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion in busi­ness affairs is kept to a min­i­mum. He hopes his ideas will help the coun­try grow, he said. In his inter­view he empha­sized sev­er­al times that he believes his ideas on eco­nom­ics will help dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple. Gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions – includ­ing the min­i­mum wage law – tend to hold every­one back, he said.

    “We want to do a bet­ter job of rais­ing up the dis­ad­van­taged and the poor­est in this coun­try, rather than say­ing ‘Oh, we’re just fine now.’ We’re not say­ing that at all. What we’re say­ing is, we need to ana­lyze all these addi­tion­al poli­cies, these sub­si­dies, this crony­ism, this avalanche of reg­u­la­tions, all these things that are cre­at­ing a cul­ture of depen­den­cy. And like per­mit­ting, to start a busi­ness, in many cities, to dri­ve a taxi­cab, to become a hair­dress­er. Any­thing that peo­ple with lim­it­ed cap­i­tal can do to raise them­selves up, they keep throw­ing obsta­cles in their way. And so we’ve got to clear those out. Or the min­i­mum wage. Or any­thing that reduces the mobil­i­ty of labor.”


    Reac­tions to strat­e­gy

    Some who have fol­lowed the Koch broth­ers’ rise to polit­i­cal pow­er were intrigued when told about the cam­paign. Lar­ry Jacobs, a pro­fes­sor of pol­i­tics at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta, said this may sig­nal that one of America’s more pow­er­ful and influ­en­tial men has con­ceived of a new way to get his ideas across.

    “I actu­al­ly find that what he’s done in step­ping out­side his cocoon, tak­ing the risk of talk­ing to you ... to be per­son­al­ly poignant,” Jacobs said. “You almost get the feel­ing that he feels a frus­tra­tion that he’s being mis­un­der­stood as a kind of a threat to Amer­i­ca, a greedy threat, and that he feels like he’s unfair­ly dem­a­gogued. He wants his mes­sage to res­onate, so he’s now offer­ing a pos­i­tive agen­da that applies to all of Amer­i­ca.”

    Many of Koch’s ideas about gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions are con­tentious and “prob­a­bly won’t go any­where,” Jacobs said, because many peo­ple believe that some reg­u­la­tions give the poor and dis­en­fran­chised a “min­i­mum floor” of pro­tec­tion.

    “But I do under­stand his frus­tra­tion,” Jacobs said. “It’s real­ly quite strik­ing, you get a sense of a guy who feels mys­ti­fied as to why he’s become demo­nized to some extent, as some­one self­ish, out for him­self. There is a kind of car­i­ca­ture of the Koch broth­ers – obvi­ous­ly the Democ­rats and lib­er­als do a lot of fundrais­ing based on demo­niz­ing him.

    Anoth­er polit­i­cal observ­er who believes this sig­nals a new strat­e­gy by Koch is Chap­man Rack­away, for­mer GOP polit­i­cal con­sul­tant and a pro­fes­sor of polit­i­cal sci­ence at Fort Hays State Uni­ver­si­ty.

    “For a long time now, the Koch broth­ers pre­ferred to act very qui­et­ly, and you had to be real­ly in the game to know who they were fund­ing, who they were allied with what their moti­va­tions were,” Rack­away said. “They have seemed to be incred­i­bly pri­vate peo­ple. But the thing about pol­i­tics is, it forces peo­ple into the pub­lic eye. In their case, they were turned into a kind of shad­owy bogey­man. So it looks like that may be some of the moti­va­tion here, that we’re get­ting dragged in, so we might as well use the pub­lic expo­sure as lever­age for our ideas.”

    Campaign’s points

    Koch doesn’t direct­ly crit­i­cize Oba­ma in this cam­paign and wants instead to make sev­er­al points: 1. Coun­tries with the most eco­nom­ic free­dom are the coun­tries with by far the most wealth and 2. One fol­lows the oth­er. Even the poor in the free coun­tries fare bet­ter than oth­ers, Koch said.

    The video, avail­able on YouTube, starts by say­ing that if you earn more than $34,000, “you are one of the wealth­i­est 1 per­cent in the world.” Koch, one of the rich­est men in the world, acknowl­edged that asser­tion might be pounced upon.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 11, 2013, 8:57 pm
  17. @Pterrafractyl–

    With regard to the Paul fam­i­ly, father and son, and the Koch fam­i­ly, NEVER lose sight of the fact that these are the inter­ests that loom large in the wings of Fast Eddie Snow­den’s One Man Band.

    The notion that the lit­tle scum­bag is some­how inter­est­ed in human rights and the wel­fare of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens is a joke.

    Don’t expect the so-called human rights groups danc­ing to the tune of Eddie the Friend­ly Spook to latch on to the salient real­i­ties, how­ev­er.

    Don’t expect the so-called pro­gres­sive forces to reach clar­i­ty on this, either.

    “Oba­ma’s a Neo­con!”, they shriek.

    One of the inter­est­ing things about that dynam­ic is the fact that so many of those who pro­fess to be “for the peo­ple” end up sid­ing (in some cas­es unin­ten­tion­al­ly) with the most bru­tal­ly inhu­man ele­ments.

    GOP slash­es unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits to those who have lost work because of the depres­sion they delib­er­ate­ly engi­neered under Dubya (see FTR #412, “The Engi­neer Intends to Wreck the Train.”)

    GOP slash­es food stamps and med­ic­aid, there­by insti­tut­ing “Clause­witz­ian eco­nom­ics” on those affect­ed. “War (or per­haps exter­mi­na­tion) by oth­er means.”

    Of course, the so-called pro­gres­sive forces will NEVER come to terms with the real­i­ties con­cern­ing the assas­si­na­tions of JFK, MLK, RFK or the Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of the GOP, the real­i­ty of AIDS or the oth­er mate­r­i­al cov­ered here.

    These are also the same crea­tures that failed to come to terms with Oper­a­tion Green Quest, which should have put the GOP big­wigs, includ­ing Norquist and Rove down in Guan­tanamo as ene­my com­bat­ants.

    Fun,fun, fun!



    Posted by Dave Emory | July 12, 2013, 2:31 pm
  18. Fred Koch: Oil Man Against Com­mu­nism. And Civ­il Rights:

    Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates
    The John Birch Society’s Anti-Civ­il Rights Cam­paign of the 1960s, and Its Rel­e­vance Today
    By Rachel Tabach­nick, on Jan­u­ary 21, 2014

    Found­ed in 1958, the John Birch Soci­ety (JBS) fierce­ly opposed the Civ­il Rights Move­ment dur­ing the 1960s and 1970s. Decades lat­er, the rise of the Tea Par­ty and the ongo­ing “Ron Paul Rev­o­lu­tion” have helped the JBS make a come­back as it attracts young peo­ple by re-brand­ing itself as “lib­er­tar­i­an.” The orga­ni­za­tion is a sig­nif­i­cant force behind pro­mot­ing the nul­li­fi­ca­tion of fed­er­al laws, as described in the most recent issue of The Pub­lic Eye. The JBS has also helped pro­vide fod­der for accu­sa­tions that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma, con­sid­ered by most Democ­rats to have gov­erned as a cen­trist, is a Marx­ist.

    While many Amer­i­cans have been puz­zled by the use of the term “anti-colo­nial­ist” with­in the con­text of such accu­sa­tions, author Claire Con­ner has helped illu­mi­nate the his­tor­i­cal and rhetor­i­cal link­ages among the JBS, oppo­si­tion to civ­il rights, anti-Com­mu­nism, and accu­sa­tions of anti-colo­nial­ism. Her recent book, Wrapped in the Flag, is an auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal account of grow­ing up as the daugh­ter of two of the organization’s ear­li­est and most ded­i­cat­ed mem­bers. (See an inter­view with Con­ner by Theo Ander­son, edi­tor of The Pub­lic Eye.) Conner’s descrip­tions of the JBS’ oppo­si­tion to the Civ­il Rights Move­ment are fur­ther sup­port­ed by many pri­ma­ry sources, includ­ing the JBS’ own media cam­paigns. Exam­ples include pam­phlets repub­lished as adver­tise­ments in news­pa­pers in the mid-1960s, in which the Civ­il Rights Move­ment is described as a com­mu­nist con­spir­a­cy to form a “Negro Sovi­et Repub­lic,” as well as a pam­phlet writ­ten by a mem­ber of the JBS Nation­al Coun­cil most famous­ly known as the father of the Koch broth­ers. Both pub­li­ca­tions are described below:

    “What’s Wrong with Civ­il Rights?”

    The first exam­ple of the JBS cam­paign to oppose the Civ­il Rights Move­ment is an adver­tise­ment in the Octo­ber 31, 1965 issue of the Palm Beach Post titled, “The John Birch Soci­ety Asks: What’s Wrong With Civ­il Rights?

    The half-page adver­tise­ment begins with the state­ment that noth­ing is wrong with civ­il rights, just with the Civ­il Rights Move­ment. Accord­ing to the JBS, it con­sti­tut­ed a com­mu­nist plot to build a “Negro Sovi­et Repub­lic” in the Unit­ed States. The “aver­age Amer­i­can Negro,” accord­ing to the JBS in 1965, “has com­plete free­dom of reli­gion, free­dom of move­ment, and free­dom to run his own life as he pleas­es.” More­over, “The pur­suit of hap­pi­ness enjoyed by the aver­age Amer­i­can Negro has been far supe­ri­or to that of any race or any peo­ple among at least nine­ty per­cent of the earth’s pop­u­la­tion.”

    The ad con­tin­ues, “So what is all the com­plain­ing about?” The prob­lem, accord­ing to the JBS, is that com­mu­nist agi­ta­tors are begin­ning to see the results from “patient­ly build­ing up to this present stage for more than forty years.” The read­er is informed that this Sovi­et strat­e­gy in the U.S. is a con­tin­u­a­tion of anti-colo­nial­ism fer­ment­ed by com­mu­nists in Africa and Asia and con­duct­ed by those who have no inter­est in civ­il rights. Accord­ing to the John Birch Soci­ety, both the push for civ­il rights in the U.S. and anti-colo­nial­ist activism in Africa and Asia are a com­mu­nist plot to destroy all that is good and holy—namely, cap­i­tal­ism.


    Across the bot­tom of the half-page ad is mar­ket­ing of oth­er JBS pam­plets and books through Amer­i­can Opin­ion pub­lish­ing, includ­ing It’s Very Sim­ple and New York: Com­mu­nist Ter­ror in the Streets, both by Alan Stang. Stang pub­lished many works through the John Birch Society’s Amer­i­can Media, and also wrote wide­ly on Chris­t­ian Recon­struc­tion­ism. Stang was a con­trib­u­tor to the Gary North-edit­ed The The­ol­o­gy of Chris­t­ian Resis­tance, one of many exam­ples of the over­lap between the JBS and theo­crat­ic Chris­t­ian Recon­struc­tion­ism.

    Stang passed away in 2009 and was eulo­gized in the pages of the JBS’ New Amer­i­can mag­a­zine. Yet oth­er 1960s-era JBS lead­ers are again lead­ing the charge in a con­tem­po­rary state’s rights projects: nul­li­fi­ca­tion. Lead­ers who were involved with the orga­ni­za­tion in the 1960s include its cur­rent pres­i­dent, John McManus. McManus was the sur­prise guest speak­er at the Ron Paul Ral­ly for the Repub­lic, the counter-ral­ly to the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion in 2008. In his remarks, he told the audi­ence, “If you like Ron Paul, you’re going to love the John Birch Soci­ety.”

    A Busi­ness­man Looks at Com­mu­nism

    Pub­lished by the Far­mville Her­ald (VA) in 1963, A Busi­ness­man Looks at Com­mu­nism was writ­ten by Fred Koch and pro­vides an account of his work in the Sovi­et Union in the 1930s. The pam­phlet pro­vid­ed sup­port for JBS’ claim to insid­er knowl­edge of the com­mu­nist agen­da.

    Page six­teen of the pam­phlet sums up Koch’s atti­tude about labor unions. “Labor Unions have long been a Com­mu­nist goal,” Koch asserts. “The effort is fre­quent­ly made to have the work­er do as lit­tle as pos­si­ble for the mon­ey he receives. This prac­tice alone can destroy our coun­try.”

    On page 25, Koch explains his fear of the Civ­il Rights Move­ment: “You may be sure the Com­mu­nists are fish­ing furi­ous­ly in the trou­bled waters of inte­gra­tion on both sides. The Com­mu­nists are not inter­est­ed in the aspi­ra­tions of the negro except as a means to stir up racial hatred … The col­ored man looms large in the Com­mu­nist plan to take over Amer­i­ca.”

    Koch con­tin­ues, “I have been told by the ex-Com­mu­nists that the Com­mu­nist Par­ty has been influ­en­tial in chang­ing the relief laws of New York, Philadel­phia, Wash­ing­ton, Detroit, and Chica­go to make it attrac­tive for rur­al South­ern Negroes and Puer­to Ricans to come to those cities. In the first place, the Com­mu­nist Par­ty intends to use the votes of these peo­ple to swing the bal­ance in these pop­u­lous states; sec­ond­ly, when the Par­ty is ready to take over these cities it will use the col­ored peo­ple by get­ting a vicious race war start­ed.”

    This 1963 pam­phlet was cel­e­brat­ed in the pages of The New Amer­i­can mag­a­zine in 2010, in an arti­cle titled, “Fred Koch: Oil Man Against Com­mu­nism,” and clos­ing with these words about Koch: “He would prob­a­bly be dis­mayed, how­ev­er, that the Unit­ed States is still enmeshed in the Unit­ed Nations, and that she has trav­eled very far down the road to social­ist serf­dom. He would no doubt per­ceive the irony that, despite the demise of the Bol­she­viks, their pro­gram for Amer­i­ca, as a wispy lit­tle rev­o­lu­tion­ary explained it to him so long ago, is still very much in force.”

    This and oth­er JBS media pro­vide a win­dow into the under­ly­ing foun­da­tions of the world­view that has spread through­out the Tea Par­ty Move­ment and much of the Right.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 30, 2014, 2:05 pm
  19. Oh my. Check out Rich Lowry’s recent jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for open­ing the cam­paign-finance flood­gates in US pol­i­tics: Cam­paign finance restric­tions are anal­o­gous to cen­sor­ing Thomas Paine:

    The First Amend­ment Is Such a Nui­sance


    April 02, 2014

    Every time the Supreme Court rules in favor of the First Amend­ment in a cam­paign-finance case, the left recoils in dis­gust.

    The court’s 5–4 deci­sion in McCutcheon v. FEC is the lat­est occa­sion for the rend­ing of gar­ments and gnash­ing of teeth. The court struck down the lim­it on the aggre­gate amount a donor can give to can­di­dates and polit­i­cal par­ty com­mit­tees, an arbi­trary restric­tion it ruled incom­pat­i­ble with First Amend­ment pro­tec­tions for polit­i­cal expres­sion.

    In uni­son, the left pro­nounced itself out­raged. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D‑N.Y.) — who had $11 mil­lion in his cam­paign trea­sury as of Decem­ber 2013 — despite being a sen­a­tor for life, called the deci­sion “anoth­er step on the road to ruina­tion.”

    Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Har­ry Reid (D‑Nev.), who has enough of a fundrais­ing sur­plus that he was able to buy tens of thou­sands of dol­lars’ worth of jew­el­ry for his donors from his grand­daugh­ter, resort­ed to a thun­der­ous non sequitur in denounc­ing the deci­sion: “All it does is take away people’s rights because, as you know, the Koch broth­ers are try­ing to buy Amer­i­ca.”

    The First Amend­ment is for strip­pers, flag burn­ers, pornog­ra­phers, funer­al pro­test­ers and neo-Nazis, but not for peo­ple try­ing to give mon­ey to polit­i­cal par­ties or can­di­dates. They are a sus­pect class, marked out as a threat to democ­ra­cy because they want to par­tic­i­pate in democ­ra­cy.

    In his deci­sion for the court, Chief Jus­tice John Roberts not­ed that con­tribut­ing to a can­di­date is polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion just like vol­un­teer­ing for a cam­paign or urg­ing oth­ers to vote. As such, it is an exer­cise of the right to polit­i­cal speech and asso­ci­a­tion.

    “Mon­ey in pol­i­tics may at times seem repug­nant to some,” Roberts writes, “but so too does much of what the First Amend­ment vig­or­ous­ly pro­tects.”


    The crit­ics of the deci­sion object to it part­ly on egal­i­tar­i­an grounds: Very few donors have the resources to con­tribute enough to bump up against the aggre­gate lim­its, there­fore the deci­sion is “unfair.” It gives dis­pro­por­tion­ate influ­ence to a few peo­ple.

    A free polit­i­cal sys­tem always has such dis­par­i­ties, though. Should Thomas Paine have been silenced, since his incred­i­ble rhetor­i­cal pow­ers made him so much more influ­en­tial than oth­er pam­phle­teers at the time, let alone ordi­nary peo­ple? Should The New York Times be shut­tered since it exer­cis­es more pow­er over the polit­i­cal process than almost any­one else in New York?


    That’s right, there’s no rea­son to fear that the Kochto­pus’s embrace might stran­gle the mean­ing­ful debate democ­ra­cy needs to live. It’s just Com­mon Sense.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 18, 2014, 2:15 pm
  20. Well here’s a bit of good news: Okla­homa passed a new ener­gy bill and it sounds like it’s designed to pro­mote alter­na­tive ener­gy sources. That’s unex­pect­ed:

    Okla. gov­er­nor signs ener­gy mea­sure, oth­er bills
    Post­ed: Apr 21, 2014 6:40 PM CST Updat­ed: Apr 21, 2014 6:40 PM CST

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Okla­homa Gov. Mary Fallin has signed leg­is­la­tion that encour­ages the devel­op­ment of tra­di­tion­al fuels as well as alter­na­tive forms of ener­gy.

    The ener­gy mea­sure was among more than 30 bills Fallin signed Mon­day. Fallin issued an exec­u­tive order to accom­pa­ny her sign­ing of the bill that says its intent is to pro­tect Okla­homa con­sumers and encour­age all forms of ener­gy use.

    The bill was devel­oped in con­junc­tion with the Okla­homa First Ener­gy Plan, which pro­motes tra­di­tion­al fos­sil fuels like oil and nat­ur­al gas as well as alter­na­tive forms of ener­gy that include wind- and solar-gen­er­at­ed pow­er.

    The order says about 350 indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions rely on dis­trib­uted gen­er­a­tion pro­duced by small wind tur­bines or solar pow­er gen­er­a­tors, a num­ber that’s expect­ed to grow.

    Well that sure sounds help­ful. So how is this bill going to encour­age alter­na­tive ener­gy source? Ah. It’s going to force peo­ple to pay a fee for the right to sell elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­at­ed by solar pan­els to the util­i­ty com­pa­ny. Yes, peo­ple in Okla­homa with solar pan­els that have extra pow­er that can be sold back to the grid are going to have to pay those util­i­ties for that “priv­i­lege”:

    Op-Ed: ALEC and the Koch broth­ers fight solar ener­gy with sur­charges

    By Justin King

    Cit­i­zens across the U.S. are attempt­ing to break free of the fos­sil fuel indus­try and do what state and fed­er­al gov­ern­ments are unwill­ing to do by installing solar pan­els. They now face a back­lash from politi­cians and the ener­gy com­pa­nies they back.

    Oklahoma’s House passed a bill last week that would allow those who gen­er­ate their own ener­gy to be charged by elec­tric com­pa­nies. The bill received almost no debate, and ana­lysts expect Gov­er­nor Mary Fallin to sign the bill into law. Inci­den­tal­ly, Fallin has tak­en in over $26,000 from the ener­gy and nat­ur­al resource sec­tor in cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions. The amount of the sur­charge that was autho­rized by the bill has not yet been deter­mined. Ari­zona com­pa­nies were seek­ing a $50 sur­charge recent­ly.

    The stat­ed rea­son to levy a penal­ty on those who are gen­er­at­ing their own elec­tric­i­ty is a con­vo­lut­ed argu­ment involv­ing the solar pan­el own­ers using the infra­struc­ture of the elec­tric­i­ty com­pa­nies. This is true, solar pan­el own­ers do use the infra­struc­ture. The key part that is left out of that rea­son­ing is that solar pan­el own­ers use it to deliv­er excess solar ener­gy to the grid so the com­pa­ny can sell it to oth­er con­sumers. So the use of the infra­struc­ture ben­e­fits the elec­tric com­pa­ny. This ener­gy is gen­er­at­ed dur­ing peak use day­time hours when demand is high­est. Solar pan­el own­ers, in essence, sell elec­tric­i­ty back to the com­pa­ny through a pol­i­cy known as net meter­ing.


    In a state­ment about Oklahoma’s bill, Dis­trib­uted Wind Ener­gy Asso­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Mike Bergey said

    “The tru­ly iron­ic thing is that net meter­ing, a stan­dard pol­i­cy in 42 states, saves util­i­ty admin­is­tra­tion costs and, because so lit­tle small wind and solar capac­i­ty is installed in Okla­homa, imple­ment­ing SB 1456 through the Cor­po­ra­tion Com­mis­sion would cost ratepay­ers and tax­pay­ers $5 for every $1 that it could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly save the util­i­ty.”

    Once again tax­pay­ers end up pay­ing extra to give big busi­ness a break as the gov­ern­ment helps enforce a monop­oly. The fight against net meter­ing is led by envi­ron­men­tal­ists’ worst night­mares. The deep pock­ets of the infa­mous Koch broth­ers have backed sev­er­al attacks on the pol­i­cy, and the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil (ALEC) is at the fore­front of the fight against net meter­ing.

    In what should come as no sur­prise, ALEC award­ed Fallin with their high­est hon­or, the Thomas Jef­fer­son free­dom award. The award is report­ed­ly

    “giv­en annu­al­ly to a cur­rent or for­mer pub­lic offi­cial who has estab­lished an exem­plary record of advanc­ing the fun­da­men­tal Jef­fer­son­ian prin­ci­ples of free mar­kets, lim­it­ed gov­ern­ment, fed­er­al­ism and indi­vid­ual lib­er­ty as a nation­al­ly rec­og­nized leader.”

    In light of the Fallin’s expect­ed actions, the syn­op­sis of the award seems almost sar­cas­tic. She is advanc­ing free mar­kets by help­ing to pro­tect the monop­oly of the ener­gy com­pa­nies and the fos­sil fuel sup­pli­ers back­ing them. An amaz­ing cham­pi­on of lim­it­ed gov­ern­ment would cer­tain­ly autho­rize a com­pa­ny to charge a per­son for not using their prod­uct. She is def­i­nite­ly going to pro­tect the indi­vid­ual lib­er­ty of peo­ple by mak­ing sure they are penal­ized for what they do on their own land.

    Of course, one couldn’t expect much less from the recip­i­ent of an award giv­en by an orga­ni­za­tion sourcewatch.org describes as

    “a cor­po­rate bill mill. It is not just a lob­by or a front group; it is much more pow­er­ful than that. Through ALEC, cor­po­ra­tions hand state leg­is­la­tors their wish­lists to ben­e­fit their bot­tom line. Cor­po­ra­tions fund almost all of ALEC’s oper­a­tions. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where cor­po­rate lob­by­ists and spe­cial inter­est reps vote with elect­ed offi­cials to approve “mod­el” bills.”

    Ener­gy com­pa­nies, and the fos­sil fuel mag­nates that back them, have had their sights set on dis­cour­ag­ing rooftop solar pan­els since at least last year, when an indus­try study referred to the devices as “the largest near-term threat” to the cur­rent busi­ness mod­el.

    Big ener­gy sup­port­ers have even gone as far as tak­ing peo­ple to court and attempt­ing to force them to hook their homes up to the elec­tri­cal grid. After a woman in Flori­da dis­cussed her lifestyle of liv­ing off the grid, she was vis­it­ed by a gov­ern­ment offi­cer who attempt­ed to evict her because she wasn’t using state-sanc­tioned elec­tric and water util­i­ties.


    Ah, yes, the Koch broth­ers are behind this. We should prob­a­bly have expect­ed that by now:

    Los Ange­les Times
    Con­ser­v­a­tive heavy­weights have solar indus­try in their sights
    The Koch broth­ers and large util­i­ties have allied to reverse state poli­cies that favor renew­able ener­gy. Envi­ron­men­tal­ists are push­ing back, but the fight is spread­ing and inten­si­fy­ing.

    By Evan Halper

    April 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

    WASHINGTON — The polit­i­cal attack ad that ran recent­ly in Ari­zona had some famil­iar hall­marks of the genre, includ­ing a greedy vil­lain who hogged sweets for him­self and made chil­dren cry.

    But the bad guy, in this case, was­n’t a fat-cat lob­by­ist or some­one’s polit­i­cal oppo­nent.

    He was a solar-ener­gy con­sumer.

    Solar, once almost uni­ver­sal­ly regard­ed as a vir­tu­ous, if per­haps over-hyped, ener­gy alter­na­tive, has now grown big enough to have ene­mies.

    The Koch broth­ers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation’s largest pow­er com­pa­nies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state poli­cies that favor green ener­gy. The con­ser­v­a­tive lumi­nar­ies have pushed cam­paigns in Kansas, North Car­oli­na and Ari­zona, with the bat­tle rapid­ly spread­ing to oth­er states.

    Alarmed envi­ron­men­tal­ists and their allies in the solar indus­try have fought back, bat­tling the oth­er side to a draw so far. Both sides say the fight is grow­ing more intense as new states, includ­ing Ohio, South Car­oli­na and Wash­ing­ton, enter the fray.

    At the nub of the dis­pute are two poli­cies found in dozens of states. One requires util­i­ties to get a cer­tain share of pow­er from renew­able sources. The oth­er, known as net meter­ing, guar­an­tees home­own­ers or busi­ness­es with solar pan­els on their roofs the right to sell any excess elec­tric­i­ty back into the pow­er grid at attrac­tive rates.

    Net meter­ing forms the linch­pin of the solar-ener­gy busi­ness mod­el. With­out it, firms say, solar pow­er would be pro­hib­i­tive­ly expen­sive.

    The pow­er indus­try argues that net meter­ing pro­vides an unfair advan­tage to solar con­sumers, who don’t pay to main­tain the pow­er grid although they draw mon­ey from it and rely on it for back­up on cloudy days. The more peo­ple pro­duce their own elec­tric­i­ty through solar, the few­er are left being billed for the trans­mis­sion lines, sub­sta­tions and com­put­er sys­tems that make up the grid, indus­try offi­cials say.

    “If you are using the grid and ben­e­fit­ing from the grid, you should pay for it,” said David Owens, exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Edi­son Elec­tric Insti­tute, the advo­ca­cy arm for the indus­try. “If you don’t, oth­er cus­tomers have to absorb those costs.”

    The insti­tute has warned pow­er com­pa­nies that prof­its could erode cat­a­stroph­i­cal­ly if cur­rent poli­cies and mar­ket trends con­tin­ue. If elec­tric­i­ty com­pa­nies delay in tak­ing polit­i­cal action, the group warned in a report, “it may be too late to repair the util­i­ty busi­ness mod­el.”

    The Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil, or ALEC, a mem­ber­ship group for con­ser­v­a­tive state law­mak­ers, recent­ly draft­ed mod­el leg­is­la­tion that tar­get­ed net meter­ing. The group also helped launch efforts by con­ser­v­a­tive law­mak­ers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green ener­gy man­dates.

    “State gov­ern­ments are start­ing to wake up,” Chris­tine Harbin Han­son, a spokes­woman for Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty, the advo­ca­cy group backed by bil­lion­aire indus­tri­al­ists Charles and David Koch, said in an email. The orga­ni­za­tion has led the effort to over­turn the man­date in Kansas, which requires that 20% of the state’s elec­tric­i­ty come from renew­able sources.

    “These green ener­gy man­dates are bad pol­i­cy,” said Han­son, adding that the group was hope­ful Kansas would be the first of many domi­noes to fall.


    The argu­ments over who ben­e­fits from net meter­ing, mean­while, are hot­ly dis­put­ed. Some stud­ies, includ­ing one pub­lished recent­ly by reg­u­la­tors in Ver­mont, con­clude that solar cus­tomers bring enough ben­e­fits to a region­al pow­er sup­ply to ful­ly defray the cost of the incen­tive.

    Util­i­ties deny that and are spend­ing large sums to great­ly scale back the pol­i­cy.

    In Ari­zona, a major util­i­ty and a tan­gle of secret donors and oper­a­tives with ties to ALEC and the Kochs invest­ed mil­lions to per­suade state reg­u­la­tors to impose a month­ly fee of $50 to $100 on net-meter­ing cus­tomers.

    Two pro-busi­ness groups, at least one of which had pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed receiv­ing mil­lions of dol­lars from the Koch broth­ers, formed the cam­paign’s pub­lic face. Their activ­i­ties were coor­di­nat­ed by GOP con­sul­tant Sean Noble and for­mer Ari­zona House Speak­er Kirk Adams, two ear­ly archi­tects of the Koch net­work of non­prof­its.

    In Octo­ber, Cal­i­for­nia ethics offi­cials levied a $1‑million fine after accus­ing groups the two men ran dur­ing the 2012 elec­tion of vio­lat­ing state cam­paign finance laws in an effort to hide the iden­ti­ties of donors.


    In North Car­oli­na, exec­u­tives at Duke Ener­gy, the coun­try’s largest elec­tric util­i­ty, have made clear the state’s net meter­ing law is in their sights. The com­pa­ny’s lob­by­ing effort is just begin­ning. But already, Gold­wa­ter’s group has begun work­ing in the state, launch­ing a social media and video cam­paign accus­ing Duke of deceit.

    “The inten­tion of these pro­pos­als is to elim­i­nate the rooftop solar indus­try,” said Bryan Miller, pres­i­dent of the Alliance for Solar Choice, an indus­try group.

    “They have picked some of the most con­ser­v­a­tive states in the coun­try,” he added. “But rooftop solar cus­tomers are vot­ers, and pol­i­cy­mak­ers ulti­mate­ly have to lis­ten to the pub­lic.”

    That was some nice sen­ti­ments at the end: “But rooftop solar cus­tomers are vot­ers, and pol­i­cy­mak­ers ulti­mate­ly have to lis­ten to the pub­lic”. Yeah, the guys that hatched a cur­rent­ly very suc­cess­ful plan to tax the sun across the US are real­ly con­cerned about what the vot­ers think. LOL! Still, it was a pleas­ant thought.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 21, 2014, 6:52 pm
  21. Look­ing back at the val­ues Fred Koch Sr impart­ed onto his sons — a love of the fas­cism, homo­pho­bia, visions of Red Scar­ing race wars, faith in social Dar­win­ism — and com­par­ing them to our con­tem­po­rary polit­i­cal zeit­geist, you have to won­der if the Law of Attrac­tion has some spe­cial cos­mic loop­hole where it actu­al­ly applies to oli­garchic clans:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post
    Koch Broth­ers’ Secrets Revealed In New Book

    Christi­na Wilkie Become a fan christina.wilkie@huffingtonpost.com

    Post­ed: 05/17/2014 12:24 pm EDT Updat­ed: 05/17/2014 3:59 pm EDT

    WASHINGTON — Charles and David Koch are the unof­fi­cial stan­dard-bear­ers of a new gen­er­a­tion of bil­lion­aires, will­ing to spend immense sums to influ­ence pol­i­tics. Best known for bankrolling the tea par­ty move­ment, the fierce­ly pri­vate Koch fam­i­ly has achieved a qua­si-myth­i­cal sta­tus in polit­i­cal cir­cles. Yet they remain an enig­ma to most Amer­i­cans.

    Sons of Wichi­ta: How the Koch Broth­ers Became America’s Most Pow­er­ful and Pri­vate Dynasty aims to change that. Writ­ten by Moth­er Jones senior edi­tor Daniel Schul­man, the biog­ra­phy, set to be released Tues­day, draws on hun­dreds of inter­views with Koch fam­i­ly and friends, as well as thou­sands of pages of legal doc­u­ments. The Huff­in­g­ton Post received a copy of the book on Fri­day.

    Schul­man exam­ines the roots of Charles and David Koch’s lib­er­tar­i­an world­view through the lens of their fam­i­ly, includ­ing the for­ma­tive rela­tion­ship that all four Koch broth­ers had with their father, the cold, ambi­tious Fred Koch. Schul­man also traces the bit­ter and liti­gious his­to­ry of Charles and David Koch’s rela­tion­ships with their less­er-known broth­ers: Fred­er­ick, the eldest, and Bill, David’s twin broth­er.

    At the cen­ter of the saga is patri­arch Fred Koch, a staunch anti-com­mu­nist who drilled his polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy into his sons from a young age. In 1938, then sym­pa­thet­ic to the fas­cist regimes rul­ing Ger­many, Italy and Japan, Fred wrote that he hoped one day the Unit­ed States would resem­ble these nations, which had “over­come” the vices of “idle­ness, feed­ing at the pub­lic trough, [and] depen­dence on gov­ern­ment.”

    Else­where, Fred warned of a future “vicious race war” in which com­mu­nists would pit black Amer­i­cans against white. “The col­ored man looms large in the Com­mu­nist plan to take over Amer­i­ca,” he wrote.

    In pri­vate, Fred Koch “ruled the house with an iron fist” and faith in social Dar­win­ism. Schul­man recounts how the for­mer box­er encour­aged his sons to fight each oth­er, some­times with hor­ri­fy­ing results. “Dur­ing one bout, Bill bashed his twin over the head with a polo mal­let,” Schul­man writes. And “David still bears a scar from the time Bill pierced him in the back with a cer­e­mo­ni­al sword.” Those ear­ly lessons left a deep imprint on the broth­ers.

    Fred­er­ick, the old­est, was an out­sider in the rough-and-tum­ble boys club of the Koch house. “Fred­die was a sophis­ti­cate, a man of the world, in addi­tion to the fact that he was gay, [which] was­n’t eas­i­ly accept­ed in those days,” said a fam­i­ly friend.

    Instead, it was Charles, the mid­dle child, who became the vehi­cle for his father’s ambi­tions. Accord­ing to a friend, the father wor­ried that he had been “too kind to Fred­die, and that’s why he turned out to be so effem­i­nate. When Charles came along, the old man was­n’t going to make that mis­take. So he was real­ly, real­ly tough on Charles.”

    The result was a seri­ous, extreme­ly dis­ci­plined man, who along with his younger broth­er David, would trans­form their father’s medi­um-sized oil refin­ing busi­ness, Koch Indus­tries, into one of the largest pri­vate­ly held cor­po­ra­tions in the world. But their suc­cess came at a high price.

    Schul­man describes how Charles, unable to con­vince broth­er Fred­er­ick to sell his stake in Koch Indus­tries, alleged­ly resort­ed to “a homo­sex­u­al black­mail attempt to force Fred­er­ick to sell his shares.” And when the youngest twin, Bill, launched a bid to wrest con­trol of Koch Indus­tries from his old­er broth­ers, Charles’ legal team respond­ed by releas­ing a dossier of oppo­si­tion research on Bill, filled with sor­did details of his per­son­al life.

    In 2000, Bil­l’s then-wife Angela, the moth­er of two of his chil­dren, called the police to accuse Bill of punch­ing her in the stom­ach and threat­en­ing “to beat his whole fam­i­ly to death with his belt.” Bill was charged with domes­tic assault and threat­en­ing to com­mit mur­der. Angela lat­er recant­ed parts of her account, short­ly before receiv­ing a divorce set­tle­ment worth $16 mil­lion.

    Nonethe­less, Bill spent decades wag­ing vicious legal bat­tles against Charles and David, which cost the fam­i­ly tens of mil­lions of dol­lars. Much of the book revolves around Bil­l’s failed attempts to gain con­trol of Koch Indus­tries.

    As Schul­man recounts, Bill hired pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors to bug his broth­ers’ offices and pick through the garbage cans at their homes. He plant­ed false mem­os aimed at root­ing out spies in his own com­pa­ny, Oxbow, who he sus­pect­ed were secret­ly work­ing for his broth­ers.

    While Bil­l’s anger may have been root­ed in child­hood rival­ries, accord­ing to Schul­man, it was exac­er­bat­ed by Charles’ ultra-lib­er­tar­i­an busi­ness phi­los­o­phy, which Bill con­sid­ered bad for busi­ness. Schul­man describes how Charles, and by exten­sion Koch Indus­tries, reg­u­lar­ly ignored envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions on prin­ci­ple, believ­ing them to be a hall­mark of “Big Broth­er” gov­ern­ment.

    After los­ing a string of huge reg­u­la­to­ry bat­tles in the 1990s and pay­ing heavy fines, Charles soft­ened his stance some­what. Still, the com­pa­ny remains a lib­er­tar­i­an ven­ture to this day. Schul­man writes that Charles believes the role of gov­ern­ment should be “only to keep a check on those who might attempt to inter­fere with the laws of sup­ply and demand.”


    Oh wait. Of course there’s a loop­hole, although it’s not very cos­mic...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 18, 2014, 6:43 pm
  22. Judi­cial Jun­kets. Yep, they’re legal:

    PR Watch
    Fed­er­al Judge Who Halt­ed Walk­er Dark Mon­ey Crim­i­nal Probe Attend­ed Koch-Backed Judi­cial Jun­kets
    Post­ed by Bren­dan Fis­ch­er on May 27, 2014

    The fed­er­al judge who ordered a halt to Wis­con­sin’s “John Doe” crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into spend­ing dur­ing the 2011 and 2012 recall elec­tions has reg­u­lar­ly attend­ed all-expens­es paid “judi­cial jun­kets” fund­ed by the Charles G. Koch Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion, the Lyn­de and Har­ry Bradley Foun­da­tion, and oth­er ide­o­log­i­cal and cor­po­rate inter­ests.

    On May 6, fed­er­al Dis­trict Court Judge Rudolph Ran­da blocked an ongo­ing John Doe crim­i­nal probe into alleged­ly ille­gal coor­di­na­tion between non­prof­it groups like Wis­con­sin Club for Growth, which spent $9.1 mil­lion on elec­toral ads dur­ing Wis­con­sin’s recall elec­tions, and the recall cam­paigns of Gov­er­nor Scott Walk­er and state sen­a­tors. John Doe inves­ti­ga­tions are sim­i­lar to grand jury inves­ti­ga­tions, and Wis­con­sin Club for Growth — and its direc­tor, Eric O’Keefe, a long­time com­pa­tri­ot of the Koch broth­ers — asked the fed­er­al court to stop the probe, alleg­ing it vio­lat­ed their “free speech” rights.

    Judge Ran­da sided with O’Keefe, and also ordered pros­e­cu­tors to destroy all evi­dence gath­ered in the inves­ti­ga­tion, an extra­or­di­nary edict in a crim­i­nal case made even more astound­ing by the fact that it came in the con­text of a pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion. The Sev­enth Cir­cuit has blocked this part of his rul­ing; an appeal of the remain­der of his deci­sion is pend­ing.

    An analy­sis by the Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy shows that Judge Ran­da attend­ed pri­vate­ly-fund­ed, all-expens­es-paid judi­cial sem­i­nars put on by George Mason Uni­ver­si­ty in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, accord­ing to pub­licly-avail­able finan­cial dis­clo­sure forms. (The 2013 dis­clo­sure form has been request­ed but has not yet been pub­licly post­ed).

    The George Mason Uni­ver­si­ty sem­i­nars are bankrolled by a long list of right-wing foun­da­tions, like Koch, Bradley, and the Sear­le Free­dom Trust, as well as the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce and cor­po­ra­tions like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Dow Chem­i­cal. Many of these inter­ests have long opposed lim­its on mon­ey in pol­i­tics, although it is not known whether cam­paign finance reform was a top­ic at the sem­i­nars Ran­da attend­ed.

    The sem­i­nars amount to a pri­vate­ly-fund­ed all-expens­es paid trip for judges, with con­fer­ence spon­sors pick­ing up the costs of a judge’s flights, hotel rooms, and meals. One sem­i­nar Judge Ran­da attend­ed was in La Jol­la, Cal­i­for­nia, a swanky San Diego sub­urb that is home to both great golf­ing and Mitt Rom­ney; the loca­tion of oth­er sem­i­nars Ran­da attend­ed is unknown. The con­tent of the sem­i­nars has a decid­ed­ly pro-cor­po­rate bent, and the expen­sive gifts raise con­cerns about improp­er influ­ence when cor­po­rate spon­sors have a stake in a case before a judge. (Some reports have direct­ly con­nect­ed the trips to judge’s deci­sions).

    No oth­er fed­er­al dis­trict judges in Wis­con­sin attend­ed the pri­vate­ly-fund­ed George Mason sem­i­nars, accord­ing to the Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy’s review of pub­licly avail­able finan­cial dis­clo­sure doc­u­ments.


    Judi­cial Sem­i­nars Reflect Prin­ci­ples in Pow­ell Memo

    Some have drawn a direct line between these cor­po­rate-fund­ed judi­cial sem­i­nars and the 1971 Pow­ell Memo, a call-to-arms for cor­po­rate Amer­i­ca to aggres­sive­ly push back against the “attack on the free enter­prise sys­tem” — rep­re­sent­ed by the likes of Ralph Nad­er — by devel­op­ing a set of insti­tu­tions to reshape pol­i­tics and law.

    The Pow­ell Memo report­ed­ly sparked the devel­op­ment of a right-wing infra­struc­ture and the for­ma­tion of groups like the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil (bet­ter known as ALEC), the Cato Insti­tute, the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety (with which Judge Ran­da is affil­i­at­ed), and oth­ers. As the New York Times recent­ly report­ed, Charles Koch specif­i­cal­ly ref­er­enced the Pow­ell Memo in a 1974 speech pre­view­ing what has become the “Koch net­work,” call­ing for a “well-financed cadre of of sound pro­po­nents of the free-enter­prise phi­los­o­phy” and for busi­ness to “under­take rad­i­cal new efforts to over­come the preva­lent anti-cap­i­tal­ist men­tal­i­ty.”

    Some of the mem­o­’s most aggres­sive lan­guage was reserved for the judi­cia­ry, which its author, then-tobac­co lawyer and future U.S. Supreme Court Jus­tice Lewis Pow­ell, called “the most impor­tant instru­ment for social, eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal change.”

    As a Supreme Court Jus­tice, Pow­ell would play a key role in deci­sions like First Nation­al Bank v. Bel­lot­ti and Buck­ley v. Valeo, which declared that “mon­ey equals speech” and reshaped the First Amend­ment into a tool to pro­tect the abil­i­ty of cor­po­ra­tions and wealthy indi­vid­u­als to spend on elec­tions.


    Remem­ber folks: If the Koch’s can’t finance jun­kets for judges the First Amend­ment dies.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 27, 2014, 11:21 am
  23. You have to won­der what kind of dona­tion a stunt like this pays?:

    TPM Livewire
    Tea Par­ty Group Files Ethics Com­plaint Against Har­ry Reid Over Koch-Bash­ing

    Caitlin Mac­Neal – June 2, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT

    The Tea Par­ty Patri­ots on Mon­day filed an ethics com­plaint against Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Har­ry Reid (D‑NV) for his breath­less crit­i­cism of the Koch broth­ers, Roll Call report­ed.

    “It’s been gen­er­a­tions since a mem­ber of the Sen­ate has abused the pow­er of his office to attack pri­vate cit­i­zens the way Har­ry Reid has sought to vil­i­fy Charles and David Koch,” the group’s co-founder, Jen­ny Beth Mar­tin, said in a state­ment.

    “Reid’s repeat­ed and mean-spir­it­ed attacks vio­late fed­er­al laws and Sen­ate rules against using tax­pay­er-fund­ed resources for par­ti­san pol­i­tics and he knows it, yet he repeat­ed­ly takes to the floor of the Sen­ate and the media to attack those with whom he dis­agrees – and then turns around and devotes the Sen­ate floor to a ‘talk-a-thon’ on a major donor’s key issue of cli­mate change,” she con­tin­ued.

    The for­mal com­plaint to the Sen­ate Ethics Com­mit­tee will unsur­pris­ing­ly not stop Reid from bash­ing Charles and David Koch’s polit­i­cal spend­ing.

    “We are shocked — shocked! — that a pub­lic­i­ty-seek­ing, extrem­ist Tea Par­ty group which has received hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars from the Koch broth­ers’ secret bank would attempt a friv­o­lous pub­lic­i­ty stunt to dis­tract from the Kochs’ efforts to rig the sys­tem for bil­lion­aires like them­selves,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentle­son told Roll Call in response to the com­plaint. “The shad­owy, bil­lion­aire Koch broth­ers are pulling out all the stops to get Sen­a­tor Reid to stop shin­ing a light on their efforts to buy our democ­ra­cy, but he will not be silenced.”

    Yeah, it’s true. The Koch Broth­ers are help­less pri­vate cit­i­zens that must be pro­tect­ed from the hate­ful words of Har­ry Reid. How will they defend them­selves from these vis­cious assaults? Clear­ly, a vast, legal­ly secret net­work of front groups that only a bil­lion­aire could afford will be nec­es­sary. Clear­ly:

    The Hill
    Sen. Cruz accus­es Democ­rats of 1st Amend­ment assault
    June 02, 2014, 08:31 am

    By Rebec­ca Shabad

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R‑Texas) is accus­ing Democ­rats of seek­ing an amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion that he says would dimin­ish free­dom of speech.

    Cruz calls the amend­ment on cam­paign finance reform pro­posed by Sen. Tom Udall (D‑N.M.) an assault on the First Amend­ment.

    “The con­tem­plat­ed amend­ment is sim­ply wrong,” Cruz wrote in an op-ed pub­lished late Sun­day for the Wall Street Jour­nal. “No politi­cian should be immune from crit­i­cism. Con­gress has too much pow­er already — it should nev­er have the pow­er to silence cit­i­zens.”

    Udall’s amend­ment would over­turn the Supreme Court deci­sions Cit­i­zens Unit­ed v. Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion from 2010 and the more recent McCutcheon v. FEC rul­ing, which both struck down lim­its on cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions.

    Forty-one Democ­rats have signed on to co-spon­sor the amend­ment.


    Cruz claims Democ­rats have already begun their attack on the First Amend­ment. Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Har­ry Reid (D‑Nev.), for instance, “slan­ders” pri­vate cit­i­zens on the Sen­ate floor for their polit­i­cal speech, Cruz said.

    That is a ref­er­ence to Rei­d’s repeat­ed attacks on David and Charles Koch, who have giv­en tens of mil­lions to con­ser­v­a­tive caus­es.


    Well, it looks like we should get used to a lot more con­gres­sion­al Koch-cod­dling com­ing up this year because, unlike most polit­i­cal issues, you can’t eas­i­ly run a mas­sive ad cam­paign in oppo­si­tion to a amend­ment to reg­u­late mas­sive ad cam­paigns with­out risk­ing an irony blow­back. So prox­ies like the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots are going to be required to real­ly force this issue into the pub­lic sphere. And there’s a lot at stake for not just the Kochs but any indi­vid­ual with a lot of mon­ey to spend that they would pre­fer to spend in secret. Cam­paign finance sys­tems this out of bal­ance aren’t just some spon­ta­neous event. Many hor­ri­ble mis­takes are required and must be pro­tect­ed. At all costs:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post
    The max­i­mum free­dom of the rich to influ­ence elec­tions

    By Paul Wald­man
    May 15 at 12:18 pm

    Har­ry Reid today threw his weight behind a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment designed to reverse some of the Supreme Court’s recent deci­sions on cam­paign finance and allow for greater Con­gres­sion­al reg­u­la­tion of the spend­ing that goes on in cam­paigns.

    In response, Mitch McConnell’s spokesper­son Don Stew­art took to Twit­ter to defend the free-for-all cam­paigns have become. He tweet­ed:

    Sen. Reid on the floor now call­ing for an amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion to restrict the First Amend­ment. #seri­ous­ly.”


    Sen. Reid’s pro­pos­al for deal­ing with Amer­i­cans who dis­agree with you? Amend the Con­sti­tu­tion to restrict their 1st Amend­ment rights.


    Reporters: If Con­gress can restrict a citizen’s First Amend­ment rights by amend­ing Con­sti­tu­tion, what’s to stop them from restrict­ing yours?

    You may have noticed how high-mind­ed and prin­ci­pled Repub­li­cans tend to get when the priv­i­leges of the small num­ber of Amer­i­cans who have the mon­ey to wield vast influ­ence over cam­paigns are under any kind of threat. Of course, no one thinks such an amend­ment would suc­ceed any time soon, because you need a super-major­i­ty in both Con­gress and state leg­is­la­tures to pass a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment, and one of our two great par­ties hap­pens to think that the sys­tem that their allies on the cur­rent Supreme Court have fash­ioned is just peachy.

    Despite the long odds, per­haps this is a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to think cre­ative­ly about how our sys­tem might be altered, to tamp down the pos­si­bil­i­ties for cor­rup­tion and bad gov­ern­ment and still uphold val­ues like free­dom of expres­sion.

    First, let’s remem­ber that our cur­rent cam­paign finance sys­tem wasn’t hand­ed down from above on stone tablets. It’s the prod­uct of a series of laws Con­gress passed, and Supreme Court deci­sions alter­ing those laws. Every democ­ra­cy has slight­ly dif­fer­ent cam­paign finance laws; in some there are very low con­tri­bu­tion lim­its, but far more com­mon are spend­ing lim­its for par­lia­men­tary can­di­dates, often paired with time lim­its on cam­paign­ing. You don’t have to wor­ry too much about the cor­rupt­ing influ­ence of mon­ey if a can­di­date is only allowed to cam­paign for six weeks and spend $20,000. Almost alone, we have the com­bi­na­tion of con­tri­bu­tion lim­its and unlim­it­ed spend­ing, mean­ing can­di­dates are always beg­ging for mon­ey.

    There are two com­pet­ing val­ues at play here: the desire for uncor­rupt­ed polit­i­cal cam­paigns that don’t dis­tort democ­ra­cy even if no one’s break­ing any laws; and the desire for every­one to have max­i­mal free­dom of expres­sion. In most oth­er democ­ra­cies, they tol­er­ate some lim­its on polit­i­cal speech to ensure the clean­est cam­paigns pos­si­ble; here in Amer­i­ca, we tol­er­ate abysmal cam­paigns in order to ensure the max­i­mum free­dom for polit­i­cal speech.

    In prac­tice, though, that means max­i­mum free­dom for the wealthy; Shel­don Adel­son and I both have the right to spend $100 mil­lion on the next pres­i­den­tial race, but that right has mean­ing only for him.


    Sure, max­i­mum spend­ing laws might exclu­sive­ly ben­e­fit the ultra-wealthy but hey, free­dom isn’t free, right?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 2, 2014, 7:04 pm
  24. Check out the guy that took down Eric Can­tor, the House Major­i­ty leader, in the GOP pri­ma­ry. Yes, the House major­i­ty leader just lost to some ran­dom guy that just might be cra­zier than Can­tor as part of the GOP base’s ongo­ing pri­mal scream:

    New Ayn Rand Nutjob Goes to Wash­ing­ton? The Scary Eco­nom­ic Think­ing of Dave Brat
    Major­i­ty Leader Eric Can­tor is oust­ed by a Rand-wor­ship­ing econ pro­fes­sor.

    / By Lynn Stu­art Par­ramore

    June 11, 2014 |

    House Major­i­ty Leader Eric Can­tor, the sec­ond-rank­ing Repub­li­can in the House, was oust­ed yes­ter­day in a pri­ma­ry chal­lenge. He is a smarmy piece of work and we can’t say we’ll miss him. But the swamp crea­ture who beat him! Meet Tea Par­ty activist Dave Brat, who surfed to polit­i­cal cen­ter-stage on an anti-immi­gra­tion wave and aims to bring his spe­cial brand of eco­nom­ic hokum to the nation’s cap­i­tal.

    Brat, you’ll be delight­ed to hear, is an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at Ran­dolph-Macon Col­lege who counts the fan­tas­ti­cal­ly nut­ty Ayn Rand as his intel­lec­tu­al hero. Not anoth­er one! Paul Ryan was about as much Ran­di­an baloney as we could swal­low. But there could be anoth­er course com­ing: As Saman­tha Lach­man report­ed, the pro­fes­sor gets dough from the bank­ing sec­tor to push Rand’s lib­er­tar­i­an non­sense on col­lege stu­dents:

    “Brat has taught class­es for a pro­gram spon­sored by BB&T bank that aims to spread Ayn Rand’s prin­ci­ples to col­lege stu­dents. Brat got a $500,000 grant from the bank to bring the pro­gram to Ran­dolph-Macon Col­lege and co-authored a paper titled ‘An Analy­sis of the Moral Foun­da­tions in Ayn Rand.’”

    We tried to find that paper, which was “pre­sent­ed and pub­lished in the pro­ceed­ings of South­east Informs, Myr­tle Beach, SC, Octo­ber 6, 2010,” but that pub­lish­ing venue evi­dent­ly does­n’t quite make the cut for Google schol­ar and JSTOR, so we can only guess at its con­tents.

    But look­ing over Pro­fes­sor Brat’s fac­ul­ty page, you get the sense of his, um, intel­lec­tu­al per­spec­tive. A sam­ple: “God and Advanced Mammon—Can The­o­log­i­cal Types Han­dle Usury and Cap­i­tal­ism?”

    No, we did not make that up. Brat actu­al­ly attend­ed Prince­ton The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary at one time, which is known to be a right-wing hotbed. The moral gym­nas­tics required to defend usury from a Chris­t­ian point of view are not too much for Pro­fes­sor Brat..

    As the Wall Street Jour­nal reports, Brat has also mused on the need for a church mod­el that ful­ly sup­ports cap­i­tal­ism, warn­ing that if we don’t get on that, a new Hitler will sure­ly rise.

    America’s big banks and cor­po­rate giants are always ready to fund col­lege pro­fes­sors who are will­ing to embrace dis­cred­it­ed eco­nom­ic the­o­ries that sup­port their pow­er. That is why BB&T kicked off its pro­gram “The Moral Foun­da­tions of Cap­i­tal­ism.” As John Alli­son, for­mer chair­man of BB&T’s board and cham­pi­on of edu­ca­tion pri­va­ti­za­tion, help­ful­ly explains:

    “About twelve years ago we re-exam­ined our char­i­ta­ble giv­ing and real­ized that our con­tri­bu­tions to uni­ver­si­ties were not typ­i­cal­ly being used in our share­hold­ers’ best inter­est. At the same time, we were study­ing the ques­tion of why the Unit­ed States had moved from the land of ‘life, lib­er­ty, and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness’ to the ‘redis­trib­u­tive state.’ We became con­vinced that the rea­son for this trans­for­ma­tion was that the Left had tak­en over the uni­ver­si­ties and edu­cat­ed future lead­ers, includ­ing teach­ers, in statist/collectivist ideas.

    “A relat­ed ques­tion occurred to us. Why do free-mar­ket prin­ci­ples, which by any objec­tive analy­sis have won the intel­lec­tu­al argu­ment, con­tin­ue to be dis­missed by most intel­lec­tu­als? We con­clud­ed that the free-mar­ket eco­nom­ic argu­ments were rou­tine­ly defeat­ed by moral argu­ments, and those were pri­mar­i­ly focused on the dis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth.

    “Fur­ther­more, BB&T has used the fun­da­men­tal ethics expressed in Ayn Rand’s phi­los­o­phy of Objec­tivism in very suc­cess­ful­ly grow­ing our busi­ness, and we want­ed Rand’s ideas to be heard in the aca­d­e­m­ic com­mu­ni­ty.”

    In order to spread Ran­di­an nut­tery, BB&T has spon­sored 68 pro­grams “at most of the major uni­ver­si­ties in our oper­at­ing area.” The read­ing list usu­al­ly fea­tures Atlas Shrugged. The size of the mon­ey pile depends on how vig­or­ous­ly uni­ver­si­ties agree to pro­mote the quack­ery, rang­ing from $500,000 to $2 mil­lion.

    Alli­son boasts that “many [stu­dents] indi­cate the pro­gram is the first time they have heard cap­i­tal­ism defend­ed from an eth­i­cal per­spec­tive.”

    BB&T found a will­ing part­ner in Dave Brat, who has a posi­tion as the “BB&T Ethics Pro­gram Direc­tor,” serv­ing 2010–2020. On the cam­paign trail, Brat reflect­ed his cap­i­tal­ism-gone-wild brand of Tea Par­ty Repub­li­can­ism.


    Yes, David Brat, the new GOP Drag­on Slay­er that’s sud­den­ly become a sym­bol of the GOP’s ongong Cruz­i­fi­ca­tion, is an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor with a par­tic­u­lar focus on spread­ing the Gospel of Ayn. Also, he wants pre­vent the return of Hitler:

    Think Progress
    David Brat: Embrace Chris­t­ian Cap­i­tal­ism, Or Hitler Will Come Back

    By Jack Jenk­ins June 11, 2014 at 12:13 pm Updat­ed: June 12, 2014 at 9:11 am

    When David Brat defeat­ed House Major­i­ty leader Eric Can­tor (R‑VA) in the Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry of Virginia’s 7th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict last night, House Repub­li­cans like­ly lost their only Jew­ish rep­re­sen­ta­tive. In his place, they may have gained a rad­i­cal­ly pro-cap­i­tal­ist Chris­t­ian the­olo­gian.

    Chris­t­ian Tea Par­ty can­di­dates are cer­tain­ly not unusu­al, but a trail of writ­ings show that Brat, an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at Ran­dolph-Macon col­lege, has an espe­cial­ly rad­i­cal the­ol­o­gy to sup­port his right-wing pol­i­tics. Brat’s CV lists him as a grad­u­ate of Hope Col­lege, a Chris­t­ian school in Michi­gan, and Prince­ton The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, a Pres­by­ter­ian Church U.S.A. sem­i­nary in New Jer­sey. He claims to be a “fair­ly ortho­dox Calvin­ist,” but sev­er­al of his pub­lished writ­ings expose a unset­tling core the­ol­o­gy that is cen­tered around lift­ing up unreg­u­lat­ed, free-mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism as a moral­ly right­eous sys­tem that church­es should embrace—or else.

    In a 2011 paper enti­tled “God and the Advanced Mam­mon — Can The­o­log­i­cal Types Han­dle Usury and Cap­i­tal­ism?”, pub­lished in Inter­pre­ta­tion: A Jour­nal of Bible and The­ol­o­gy, Brat cham­pi­ons the moral supe­ri­or­i­ty of the cap­i­tal­is­tic sys­tem. “Cap­i­tal­ist mar­kets and their expan­sion in Chi­na and India have pro­vid­ed more for the com­mon good, more ‘social wel­fare,’ than any oth­er pol­i­cy in the past ten years,” he writes, adding “So, as a sem­i­nary stu­dent con­cerned with human wel­fare, I nat­u­ral­ly want­ed to learn about these free mar­kets.”

    Brat goes on to list a num­ber of argu­ments for and against the prac­tice of usury, but con­cludes the paper with a chill­ing warn­ing about what will hap­pen if church­es fail to build a move­ment in sup­port of free-mar­ket capitalism—namely, a Hitler-like fig­ure could rise to pow­er. He writes:

    Cap­i­tal­ism is here to stay, and we need a church mod­el that cor­re­sponds to that real­i­ty. Read Niet­zsche. Nietzsche’s diag­no­sis of the weak mod­ern Chris­t­ian demo­c­ra­t­ic man was spot on. Jesus was a great man. Jesus said he was the Son of God. Jesus made things hap­pen. Jesus had faith. Jesus actu­al­ly made peo­ple bet­ter. Then came the Chris­tians. What hap­pened? What went wrong? We appear to be a bit pas­sive. Hitler came along, and he did not meet with uni­fied resis­tance. I have the sink­ing feel­ing that it could all hap­pen again, quite eas­i­ly. The church should rise up high­er than Niet­zsche could see and prove him wrong. We should love our neigh­bor so much that we actu­al­ly believe in right and wrong, and do some­thing about it. If we all did the right thing and had the guts to spread the word, we would not need the gov­ern­ment to back­stop every action we take.

    “I think the main point is that we need to syn­the­size Chris­tian­i­ty and cap­i­tal­ism,” he adds a few lines lat­er.

    This isn’t the only time Brat has sung the prais­es of reli­gious­ly-sup­port­ed cap­i­tal­ism. The idea was also at the cen­ter of Brat’s 200-page PhD dis­ser­ta­tion at Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty, enti­tled “Human Cap­i­tal, Reli­gion, and Eco­nom­ic Growth.” The dis­ser­ta­tion, which was also obtained by ThinkProgress, exam­ines the role Pietis­tic Protes­tantism — as opposed to Catholi­cism — played in the rapid indus­tri­al­iza­tion of Ger­many and Great Britain in the 19th cen­tu­ry. Although he is more cau­tious than in his 2011 arti­cle, Brat ulti­mate­ly argues that Protes­tantism — par­tic­u­lar­ly Calvin­ism — deserves cred­it for cre­at­ing sci­en­tif­ic advance­ment, eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty, and espe­cial­ly a decen­tral­ized gov­ern­ment in Ger­man and Britain. Accord­ing to Brat, Chris­tian­i­ty — espe­cial­ly Calvin­ist Protes­tantism — inher­ent­ly sup­ports “the decen­tral­iza­tion of pow­er” that, to him, leads to eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty.


    And here’s a bit more on Brat’s views on usury and the role of the church in the mod­ern soci­ety:

    Acton Insti­tute PowerBlog
    David Brat’s Views on God, Mam­mon, and Eco­nom­ics
    by Joseph Sunde on Wednes­day, June 11, 2014

    Last night, eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor David Brat sur­prised every­one in defeat­ing House Major­i­ty Leader Eric Can­tor (R., Va.) in a pri­ma­ry chal­lenge for Virginia’s 7th con­gres­sion­al dis­trict. Pre­dictably, the media is now a‑buzz about Brat, rapid­ly catch­ing up on his beliefs, his plans, and so on.

    Time will tell as for whether Brat is suc­cess­ful as a politi­cian, and whether he is, in fact, a strong con­ser­v­a­tive alter­na­tive to his pre­de­ces­sor. But one item that sticks out in Brat’s aca­d­e­m­ic CV is his unique inter­est in the inter­sec­tion of eco­nom­ics and the­ol­o­gy.

    Cur­rent­ly an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at Ran­dolph-Macon Col­lege in Ash­land, Va., Brat holds a B.A. in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion from Hope Col­lege in Michi­gan, a Master’s degree in Divin­i­ty from Prince­ton The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, and a Ph.D in eco­nom­ics from Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty. I’m sure there are plen­ty of places to explore his thoughts on these mat­ters, but one place of par­tic­u­lar inter­est is an essay he wrote titled, “God and Advanced Mam­mon: Can The­o­log­i­cal Types Han­dle Usury and Cap­i­tal­ism?”

    Although the essay aims specif­i­cal­ly at the issue of usury, in his analy­sis of the top­ic, we begin to see the deep­er the­ol­o­gy and phi­los­o­phy that steers Brat’s polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic thought.

    Giv­en the length of the essay, the fol­low­ing excerpts are offered sim­ply as a taste of where he’s com­ing from. Empha­sis is added wher­ev­er text is bold­ed.


    On the (non)study of eco­nom­ics in sem­i­nary:

    Here are the typ­i­cal lines a sem­i­nary stu­dent might hear from their thought lead­ers: “Usury is bad. Usury is moral­ly bad. Usury is the charg­ing of inter­est pay­ments for sim­ply bor­row­ing mon­ey. Usury is frowned upon in the Bible. Lib­er­a­tion the­ol­o­gy might be required here…. Usury should be reg­u­lat­ed. The gov­ern­ment should make laws that for­bid out­ra­geous inter­est charges. I’m call­ing my con­gress­man to do this. The church should take a stand on this exploita­tion. The church should write some state­ments on usury. The church should hire lob­by­ists to work on behalf of the poor who suf­fer under usury.”

    Sound famil­iar? This is a car­i­ca­ture, but I think there is some­thing to it. In sum­ma­ry, usury is not some­thing to be stud­ied. It is some­thing to be con­demned. I nev­er saw a sup­ply and demand curve in sem­i­nary. I should have.

    On the church’s silence on eco­nom­ics and ethics (re: the ques­tion of usury):

    The indi­vid­ual is respon­si­ble for know­ing God’s will via rev­e­la­tion, rea­son, church, and faith. We will have an impact on our cul­ture, but we are not the culture….As long as the church is silent on this issue, it will have no impact on our broad­er cul­ture. The church needs to regain its voice and offer up a coher­ent social vision of jus­tice and ratio­nal­i­ty. Soon. The Bible and then Calvin is a good start. Rule of Law is in the mid­dle. Cap­i­tal­ism will be in the final chap­ters.

    On usury itself:

    The Bible is clear that usury should not be prac­ticed in small reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties where loans involv­ing the deep famil­ial bond of broth­ers and sis­ters occur, espe­cial­ly poor broth­ers and sis­ters. It is less clear on usury in gen­er­al, but it is safe to say that a ten­sion exists. I am try­ing to illu­mi­nate some of those ten­sions. The ten­sions become all the more acute as we move into the mod­ern peri­od of mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism… What is “unjust­ly charg­ing some­one” and what is it to exploit? These are the key ques­tions for our day.

    On “good mar­kets” and the neces­si­ty of the gospel:

    Preach the gospel and change hearts and souls. If we make all of the peo­ple good, mar­kets will be good. Mar­kets are made up of peo­ple. Sup­ply and Demand are curves, but they are also peo­ple. Noth­ing else. If mar­kets are bad, which they are, that means peo­ple are bad, which they are. Want good mar­kets? Change the peo­ple. If there are not ner­vous twitch­es in the pews when we preach, then we are not doing our jobs.


    Yes, the GOP’s new Drag­on Slay­er is an Ayn Rand wor­ship­ing Catholic Calvin­ist with com­pli­cat­ed feel­ings about usury that wants to replace eco­nom­ic reg­u­la­tions on the econ­o­my with the “angel/devil on your shoul­ders” reg­u­la­to­ry regime because oth­er­wise Hitler will rise again. Plus, accord­ing to Brat, cor­po­ra­tions and mar­kets are peo­ple. Neat!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 12, 2014, 8:17 am
  25. As Eric Can­tor learned this week, when Dark Mon­ey attacks you may not see it com­ing:

    The Dark Mon­ey Machine That Beat Eric Can­tor:
    Wednes­day, 11 June 2014 15:23 By The Dai­ly Take Team, The Thom Hart­mann Pro­gram | Op-Ed

    Unless you’ve been liv­ing under a rock for the past twen­ty-four hours, you know by now that Eric Can­tor, the House Major­i­ty Leader, lost his pri­ma­ry elec­tion last night to a lit­tle-known col­lege pro­fes­sor named David Brat.

    This was a shock­ing upset, one that no one saw com­ing. So ever since news broke about Can­tor’s defeat at rough­ly around 8 P.M. last night, the Belt­way media has been try­ing to get to the bot­tom of just why exact­ly some­one like him, some­one so well-con­nect­ed and estab­lished, lost to some­one like David Brat, who spent less on his cam­paign than Can­tor spent on steaks.

    The offi­cial nar­ra­tive is that Can­tor lost because he was too “mod­er­ate” (from a Repub­li­can point of view, at least) on immi­gra­tion, that he did­n’t spend enough time in his dis­trict, and that the con­ser­v­a­tive base was sick and tired of some­one it saw as a sell­out.

    And while there is a lot of truth to that nar­ra­tive — just check out any right wing blog and you’ll see what I mean — it miss­es the big­ger pic­ture of what’s real­ly going on here.

    One of the rea­sons — if not the biggest rea­son — Eric Can­tor lost was that he total­ly under­es­ti­mat­ed the dark mon­ey machine that was the real force behind David Brat’s cam­paign.

    The media is mak­ing it seem like Brat was some sort of under­dog, but in real­i­ty, he’s strapped to the hilt with bil­lion­aire sup­port and bil­lion­aire mon­ey.

    In fact, you could argue that he pret­ty much owes his job to peo­ple like the Koch broth­ers and their cronies. John Alli­son, the for­mer CEO of BB&T bank and the cur­rent head of the Koch-found­ed Cato Insti­tute, gave Brat’s col­lege a $500,000 fel­low­ship back in 2010 so he could teach Ayn Rand and lib­er­tar­i­an­ism at Ran­dolph Macon Uni­ver­si­ty. Like hun­dreds of oth­er col­lege pro­fes­sors across the coun­try these days, David Brat is real­ly just a bought-and-paid-for shill of Charles and David Koch and their bud­dies.

    But the con­nec­tions between Brat and the dark mon­ey machine don’t stop there. He was also the hand-picked can­di­date of the Koch-backed world of right-wing media.
    Over the past few months, right-wing talk­ers like Lau­ra Ingra­ham and Mark Levin have been push­ing Brat and attack­ing Can­tor non-stop on their radio shows. Ingra­ham even went so far as to say that she wished that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma trad­ed Eric Can­tor to the Tal­iban in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl.

    Lau­ra and Mark are both on the pop­ulist end of the Repub­li­can Par­ty, so it’s not all that sur­pris­ing that they would want to see Brat take down Can­tor. But since both of them have tak­en a lot of mon­ey from con­ser­v­a­tive groups like Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty over the past few years, there’s good rea­son to be sus­pi­cious of why they’ve been push­ing so hard specif­i­cal­ly for Brat.

    As Politi­co report­ed a few months ago in what should have been a block­buster sto­ry but was ignored by the main­stream media,

    “[F]ilings with the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice and Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, as well as inter­views and reviews of radio shows, found that con­ser­v­a­tive groups spent near­ly $22 mil­lion to bro­ker and pay for involved adver­tis­ing rela­tion­ships known as spon­sor­ships with a hand­ful of influ­en­tial talk­ers includ­ing Beck, Sean Han­ni­ty, Lau­ra Ingra­ham, Mark Levin and Rush Lim­baugh ... Since then, the spon­sor­ship deals have grown more lucra­tive and tea par­ty-ori­ent­ed...”

    Levin alone appar­ent­ly took about $757,000 from the Koch-backed Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty over the 2012 elec­tion cycle, and if Politi­co’s report is accu­rate, he’s still tak­ing mon­ey from them.

    And while we don’t real­ly know specifics about just how much mon­ey Ingra­ham is tak­ing from con­ser­v­a­tive groups, we do know that she is or at least was tak­ing mon­ey from them, which could go a long way towards explain­ing why she was so enthu­si­as­tic to back David Brat over Eric Can­tor.

    Once you’ve real­ized that David Brat was­n’t just some ran­dom col­lege pro­fes­sor but was actu­al­ly the hand-picked can­di­date of the lib­er­tar­i­an bil­lion­aire class and its army of talk radio hosts, it’s easy to see anoth­er one of the major rea­sons Eric Can­tor lost.

    We’re liv­ing in a brave new world of dark mon­ey pol­i­tics, and in this day and age, doing what Eric Can­tor did — hang­ing out with the Cham­ber of Com­merce, K Street, and Wall Street — only gets you so far. If you want to win these days, you need to win the sup­port of the Kochs, their lib­er­tar­i­an bil­lion­aire friends, and their allies in the talk radio world.

    Sure, work­ing the Kochs does­n’t always work out — Matt Bevin failed mis­er­ably in Ken­tucky — but when the sit­u­a­tion is right and you have a weak, real­ly unpop­u­lar can­di­date like Can­tor to run against, it works like a charm.

    Don’t kid your­selves. David Brat’s vic­to­ry was­n’t a fluke; it was a test run. The Kochs and their cronies now have a blue­print for how to beat estab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans all across the coun­try. For them, the rev­o­lu­tion has just begun.


    “We’re liv­ing in a brave new world of dark mon­ey pol­i­tics, and in this day and age, doing what Eric Can­tor did — hang­ing out with the Cham­ber of Com­merce, K Street, and Wall Street — only gets you so far. If you want to win these days, you need to win the sup­port of the Kochs, their lib­er­tar­i­an bil­lion­aire friends, and their allies in the talk radio world.” So in less than a decade we cre­at­ed a post‑K Street era that makes Jack Abramoff and the K Street Project seem quaint in com­par­i­son.

    Still, the over­all state of affairs in the US elec­toral sys­tem could be worse than legal­ized unlim­it­ed secret polit­i­cal spend­ing. For instance, we could have a sys­tem of legal­ized unlim­it­ed secret polit­i­cal spend­ing and a plague of still-unver­i­fi­able elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines. So, yeah, it could be a lot worse because it is a lot worse.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 12, 2014, 7:54 pm
  26. Pter­rafractyl,
    Fas­ci­nat­ing posts on Brat. I find it espe­cial­ly inter­est­ing to read about his for­ays into the sub­ject of Usury.

    Usury is a sub­ject that seems to jump out quite fre­quent­ly when study­ing fas­cism. In John Roy Carl­son’s “Under Cov­er,” I seem to remem­ber the author describ­ing a cer­tain under­cur­rent of anti-usury sen­ti­ments in the flow­er­ing fas­cist under­world of the ear­ly-mid 20th cen­tu­ry. Lo and behold, it has reared its head yet again in our time. How­ev­er, with your posts on Brat, it appears that there is — at least the appear­ance of — dif­fer­ences of opin­ion on the mat­ter in that camp.

    Take one Michael Hoff­man, non-econ­o­mist author of the 416 page “Usury in Chris­ten­dom: The Mor­tal Sin that Was and Now Is Not.” Here, Hoff­man (a fel­low trav­el­er of Adam Par­frey, Ernst Zun­del, and occa­sion­al speak­er at events in Sand­point, Ida­ho) wild­ly swings away at the prac­tice of usury among Chris­tians, and lam­basts con­ser­v­a­tive Ayn Rand fol­low­ers such as Brat.

    But while Hoff­man remains mar­gin­al (which could be his role as coun­ter­cul­ture fas­cism activist — he cer­tain­ly exploits “occultism”), the real mon­ey is invest­ed in guys like Brat and the media mouth­pieces list­ed above.

    These ele­ments do share an anti-Semit­ic streak though, which is a call­ing card of sorts to pick out birds of a feath­er. Any­way, your research into this is fas­ci­nat­ing, but at the same time trou­bling.

    Posted by Sampson | June 13, 2014, 5:30 am
  27. Here’s a great piece on how Friedrich Hayek’s ide­o­log­i­cal dis­dain for the poor and democ­ra­cy helped cre­at­ed the cur­rent far right dom­i­nat­ed polit­i­cal dynam­ic across the West­ern world in pro­found­ly iron­ic ways:

    naked cap­i­tal­ism
    Bill Black: How Hayek Helped the Worst Get to the Top in Eco­nom­ics and as CEOs
    Post­ed on June 12, 2014 by Yves Smith

    By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics and law at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri-Kansas City. Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished at New Eco­nom­ic Per­spec­tives

    Lib­er­tar­i­ans are pro­found­ly anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic. The folks at Cato that I debate make no bones about their dis­dain for and fear of democ­ra­cy. Friedrich von Hayek is so pop­u­lar among lib­er­tar­i­ans because of his denial of the legit­i­ma­cy of demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment and his claims that it is inher­ent­ly mon­strous and mur­der­ous to its own cit­i­zens. Here’s an exam­ple from a lib­er­tar­i­an pro­fes­sor based in Mary­land.

    [W]hen gov­ern­ment uses its legal monop­oly on coer­cion to con­fis­cate one person’s prop­er­ty and give it to anoth­er, it is engag­ing in what would nor­mal­ly be called theft. Call­ing this immoral act “democ­ra­cy,” “major­i­ty rule” or “pro­gres­sive tax­a­tion” does not make it moral. Under democ­ra­cy, rulers con­fis­cate the income of pro­duc­tive mem­bers of soci­ety and redis­trib­ute it to var­i­ous sup­port­ers in order to keep them­selves in pow­er.

    In order to finance a cam­paign, a politi­cian must promise to steal (i.e., tax) mon­ey from those who earned it and give it to oth­ers who have no legal or moral right to it. There are (very) few excep­tions, but politi­cians must also make promis­es that they know they can nev­er keep (i.e., lie). This is why so few moral peo­ple are elect­ed to polit­i­cal office. The most suc­cess­ful politi­cians are those who are the least hin­dered by strong moral prin­ci­ples. They have the least qualms about con­fis­cat­ing oth­er peo­ples’ prop­er­ty in order to main­tain their own pow­er, perks, and income. In his best­selling 1944 book, ‘The Road to Serf­dom,’ Nobel lau­re­ate econ­o­mist F.A. Hayek described this phe­nom­e­non in a chap­ter [10] enti­tled “Why the Worst Get on Top.”

    But von Hayek’s cri­tique of demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment has proven to be the most mon­strous blood libel of the post-World War II era – false­ly declar­ing that demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment must end in tyran­ny and the mass mur­der of its own peo­ple.

    The polit­i­cal sci­en­tist Her­man Fin­er … denounced [The Road to Serf­dom] as “the most sin­is­ter offen­sive against democ­ra­cy to emerge from a demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­try for many years.”

    The econ­o­mist Paul Samuel­son, in a rem­i­nis­cence of Hayek pub­lished last Decem­ber, was more dis­mis­sive still. “Where are their hor­ror camps?’ he asked, refer­ring to right-wing buga­boos like Swe­den, with its gen­er­ous wel­fare spend­ing. Almost 70 years after Hayek sound­ed his alarm, ‘hind­sight con­firms how inac­cu­rate its innu­en­do about the future turned out to be.”

    Why the Worst Get on Top – in Eco­nom­ics

    Econ­o­mists claim that their work should be eval­u­at­ed based on pre­dic­tive suc­cess. Von Hayek was made a Nobel Lau­re­ate in 1974, three decades after his pre­dic­tion that demo­c­ra­t­ic states were head­ed to tyran­ny and mass mur­der of their own cit­i­zens. In those three decades of expe­ri­ence in the nations he focused on (West­ern Europe, the U.S., Cana­da, Aus­tralia, and New Zealand) – and the forty years since his award – this hap­pened in zero nations. He is bat­ting zero for 70 years in rough­ly 30 nations with, col­lec­tive­ly, thou­sands of elec­tions. What he claimed was inevitable has nev­er occurred.

    Wes­ley Mar­shall and I are writ­ing a book about why, dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly, eco­nom­ics bestows its top hon­ors on those who fail their own pur­port­ed test of suc­cess (pre­dic­tive abil­i­ty). This is the only field of aca­d­e­m­ic study in which this occurs. We are try­ing to answer von Hayek’s ques­tion, but it his own field – “why the worst get on top.” Why do the von Hayeks of the world, the very worst of econ­o­mists, “get on top?”

    I recent­ly wrote a piece about the spec­tac­u­lar­ly bad tim­ing of a lib­er­tar­i­an who chose the 70th anniver­sary of D‑Day (a prod­uct of excep­tion­al­ly com­pe­tent gov­ern­ment plan­ning) to denounce demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment as inca­pable of plan­ning and invari­ably lead­ing to tyran­ny and the mass exe­cu­tion of its own work­ers and CEOs. As “sup­port” for this claim the colum­nist pre­sent­ed the car­toon ver­sion of The Road to Serf­dom that Gen­er­al Motors spread via pam­phlet – this the day after Gen­er­al Motor’s admis­sions about the qual­i­ty of its cars and the indif­fer­ence to the safe­ty of every­one on the roads by its senior man­agers and attor­neys.

    Why von Hayek and Mil­ton Fried­man are the Patron Saints of Plu­toc­ra­cy

    It is telling that lib­er­tar­i­ans’ eco­nom­ic hero, writ­ing what they claim was his sin­gle best chap­ter, “Why the Worst Get on Top,” invari­ably proved whol­ly and grotesque­ly incor­rect about the cer­tain­ty of tyran­ny and mass mur­der. Worse, since the time von Hayek wrote his chap­ter, the demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments he demo­nized have ceased the worst abus­es against their own cit­i­zens, such as forced ster­il­iza­tions. The worst abus­es – mass tor­ture and mur­der – have been com­mit­ted by fas­cist regimes that von Hayek sup­port­ed such as Pinochet in Chile. When we ask why von Hayek receives a Nobel Prize and remains Glenn Beck’s hero we can­not explain the results based on facts and pre­dic­tive suc­cess (fail­ure). Instead, we must look out­side the realm of real­i­ty and enter into the realms that von Hayek glo­ri­fied – ide­ol­o­gy and greed.

    Von Hayek received his Nobel Prize because he was so will­ing to be so wrong about so many things. His blood libel about the demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments of “the West” was use­ful to anoth­er group in which “the worst get on top” in far too many cas­es – “impe­r­i­al” CEOs. Von Hayek legit­imizes that which can­not be legit­imized through real eco­nom­ics, real­i­ty, ethics, or log­ic – plu­toc­ra­cy. Von Hayek and Mil­ton Fried­man are the patron saints of plu­toc­ra­cy.

    Von Hayek’s Denun­ci­a­tion of Democ­ra­cy Rests on His Dis­dain for the Poor

    Von Hayek argues that there are three rea­sons why demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment inher­ent­ly leads to the ele­va­tion of the “worst” to the “top” – and by the “worst” he means mur­der­ous tyrants. Von Hayek begins Chap­ter 10 with the famous quo­ta­tion from Lord Acton: “Pow­er tends to cor­rupt, and absolute pow­er cor­rupts absolute­ly.” Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment, of course, is con­scious­ly designed to pre­vent the cre­ation of “absolute pow­er” by the state or pri­vate enti­ties. Von Hayek, there­fore, has to argue that a demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem of gov­ern­ment designed to pre­vent the cre­ation of absolute pow­er will invari­ably pro­duce absolute pow­er.


    The third com­po­nent of the total­i­tar­i­an troi­ka is the “most impor­tant neg­a­tive ele­ment.” These are the mur­der­ous big­ots moti­vat­ed by “hatred of an ene­my … the envy of those bet­ter off.”

    Von Hayek is Blight­ed by his Big­otry

    What we are read­ing, of course, is the class hatred and big­otry com­mon to minor Aus­tri­an aris­to­crats like von Hayek who were born in the 19th cen­tu­ry. (The “von” was removed from all Aus­tri­an fam­i­ly names by statute when he was a young adult.) The idea of demo­c­ra­t­ic rule by what he viewed as his infe­ri­ors appalled von Hayek. The fact that this kind of naked big­otry in this pas­sage that I have quot­ed at length is viewed by his lib­er­tar­i­an devo­tees as von Hayek’s finest work reveals the depths of lib­er­tar­i­an hate for and fear of demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment.

    Von Hayek’s Oth­er Pre­dic­tive Fail­ures

    Under von Hayek’s the­o­ries, pro­gres­sive and social­ist can­di­dates should be the great ene­mies of pub­lic edu­ca­tion, for edu­ca­tion would dra­mat­i­cal­ly reduce their core “une­d­u­cat­ed” group. For the same rea­sons, they should avoid at all costs teach­ing stu­dents how to engage in crit­i­cal think­ing and should instead spread nationalism/patriotism memes (such as Amer­i­can “excep­tion­al­ism” and flag pins) and spread racist pro­pa­gan­da attack­ing racial and eth­nic minori­ties. The oppo­site is true. They should oppose legal pro­tec­tions, e.g., against job and hous­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion. It is con­ser­v­a­tives and Euro­pean-style “lib­er­als” who fought against pub­lic ele­men­tary and sec­ondary edu­ca­tion and the land grant col­leges. It is con­ser­v­a­tives who wear flag pins and claim that any acknowl­edge­ment of U.S. mis­con­duct is unpa­tri­ot­ic. It is U.S. con­ser­v­a­tives who to this day adopt vari­ants of the racist “South­ern strat­e­gy,” engage in state-spon­sored homo­pho­bia, and oppose anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion laws. Von Hayek pre­dict­ed that pro­gres­sives would deny sci­ence. The car­toon ver­sion of his book por­trays the gov­ern­ment as preach­ing that the earth is flat. The real­i­ty is that it is cor­po­rate CEOs who lead the anti-sci­ence cam­paigns such as glob­al cli­mate change denial.

    If You Object to an Eco­nom­ic Sys­tem in Which “The Worst Get on Top” You are not “Envi­ous”

    Von Hayek tips his hand and dog­mas when he uses the phrase “envy of those bet­ter off” and con­flates it with vir­u­lent racism. Von Hayek assumes away the real­i­ty that all too often in busi­ness “the worst get on top” by the foulest means. Oppos­ing their becom­ing “bet­ter off” through lead­ing “con­trol frauds” is not “envy” – it is jus­tice, and it is essen­tial to a well-func­tion­ing econ­o­my, soci­ety, and poli­ty.

    Von Hayek implic­it­ly assumes that cor­rupt CEOs will not con­trol and abuse any polit­i­cal sys­tem. Assume sole­ly for pur­pose of analy­sis that von Hayek were cor­rect that it dem­a­gogues can manip­u­late the three uneth­i­cal groups he iden­ti­fies and seize con­trol of gov­ern­ment. Under his own log­ic CEOs can use the seem­ing legit­i­ma­cy, pow­er, and wealth of “their” cor­po­ra­tions to serve direct­ly as these dem­a­gogues or fund and con­trol proxy dem­a­gogues that will serve their inter­ests. They have vast­ly greater eco­nom­ic resources and they have the exper­tise that comes from adver­tis­ing to run pro­pa­gan­da cam­paigns. They also had tremen­dous exper­tise in the era von Hayek was describ­ing in “divide and con­quer” strate­gies in the colonies that would be eas­i­ly trans­lat­ed into efforts to split work­ers along eth­nic lines. The alliance of elite and poor whites in the U.S. South against the freed slaves is a clas­sic exam­ple of how such a coali­tion can pro­vide dom­i­nant polit­i­cal pow­er for rough­ly a cen­tu­ry. Under von Hayek’s own assump­tions the “inevitable” result should be plu­toc­ra­cy through crony cap­i­tal­ism with any­one who com­plains about the resul­tant inequal­i­ty denounced for being “envi­ous” of his moral and intel­lec­tu­al supe­ri­ors.

    Why the Worst (CEOs) Get on Top: Account­ing Con­trol Fraud is a “Sure Thing”

    I have explained this point enough times that I will sim­ply direct any new read­ers to the scores of arti­cles that explain why this is true. I also stress how impor­tant the “Gresham’s” dynam­ic is in explain­ing why such frauds can become epi­dem­ic and why such epi­demics dri­ve our recur­rent, inten­si­fy­ing finan­cial crises. The least eth­i­cal CEOs “get on top” in such a world and they pro­duce plu­toc­ra­cy, mas­sive inequal­i­ty, and crony cap­i­tal­ism. Von Hayek wants pro­gres­sives to declare uni­lat­er­al polit­i­cal dis­ar­ma­ment while the most cor­rupt CEOs dom­i­nate our economies and our polit­i­cal sys­tems. Von Hayek’s blood libel about pro­gres­sive, demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment is a clas­sic exam­ple of Frédéric Bastiat’s warn­ing:

    When plun­der becomes a way of life for a group of men liv­ing togeth­er in soci­ety, they cre­ate for them­selves in the course of time a legal sys­tem that autho­rizes it and a moral code that glo­ri­fies it.

    What a won­drous irony it is that three ultra-right­ists, Lord Acton, Bas­ti­at and von Hayek, should com­bine so per­fect­ly to explain our cur­rent plight in which plun­der by elite CEOs has become “a way of life.” CEOs do not yet have “absolute” polit­i­cal pow­er, but their pow­er and cor­rup­tion is ris­ing steadi­ly and has become so great that they are able to “plun­der” with impuni­ty. That impuni­ty arose because von Hayek’s dis­ci­ples were able to use his anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic big­otry and failed eco­nom­ic dog­mas to “cre­ate for them­selves in the course of time a legal sys­tem that autho­rizes [plun­der] and a moral code that glo­ri­fies it.” Von Hayek was one the prin­ci­pal framers of that immoral moral code that glo­ri­fies plun­der by CEOs. Lib­er­tar­i­ans glo­ri­fy von Hayek’s big­ot­ed glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of elites as our moral supe­ri­ors who have a right to rule and plun­der our Nation. Tyler Cowen calls plu­toc­ra­cy and per­va­sive plun­der a “hyper-mer­i­toc­ra­cy,” but it is a rule by the most uneth­i­cal for the most venal of pur­pos­es and it is the great­est ene­my of mer­it and jus­tice.

    “What a won­drous irony it is that three ultra-right­ists, Lord Acton, Bas­ti­at and von Hayek, should com­bine so per­fect­ly to explain our cur­rent plight in which plun­der by elite CEOs has become “a way of life”. Yep.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 13, 2014, 9:05 am
  28. @Pterrafractyl–

    Note that, in T.H. Tetens’ “Ger­many Plots with the Krem­lin,” (https://spitfirelist.com/books/germany-plots-with-the-kremlin/) there are doc­u­ments that dis­cuss the Third Reich’s plan to use intel­li­gence assets in the West to craft pro­pa­gan­da designed to assure, among oth­er things, that FDR would not get re-elect­ed. This in 1944.

    That was the same year in which von Hayek pub­lished “The Road to Serf­dom,” in which he equat­ed FDR, Stal­in and Hitler and cement­ed his argu­ments against democ­ra­cy.

    The dis­tinct pos­si­bil­i­ty that he was work­ing for Third Reich intel­li­gence is one to be seri­ous­ly con­sid­ered.

    Check out the last item of dis­cus­sion in FTR #786. (https://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-786-the-adventures-of-eddie-the-friendly-spook-part-16-the-obverse-oswald-update-and-summary-analysis/)



    Posted by Dave Emory | June 13, 2014, 4:52 pm
  29. @Dave: In the for­ward to the 1956 copy of The road to Serf­dom, Hayek wrote “I had giv­en lit­tle thought to its pos­si­ble appeal to Amer­i­can read­ers when writ­ing it.” So maybe that’s the case and he was just tar­get­ing a British audi­ence. But accord­ing to this biog­ra­phy of Hayek (Friedrich Hayek: A Biog­ra­phy; Alan O. Eben­stein; 2003, p128) Hayek hur­ried to fin­ish the book ear­ly in order to get it pub­lished by the the win­ter of 1943:


    The Road to Serf­dom was received pos­i­tive­ly when it was pub­lished in Britain in March 1944. The war was not yet over, but it was now a ques­tion of when, not if, Nazi Ger­many would be defeat­ed. Hayek gave his impres­sion of the book’s recep­tion in Eng­land when he said lat­er that he could “feel only grat­i­fi­a­tion” at the suc­cess The Road to Serf­dom had in Great Brit­ian. This, while “very dif­fer­ent in kind” than in the Unit­ed States, was “quan­ti­ta­tive­ly no smaller...On the whole, the book was tak­en in the spir­it in which it was writ­ten, and its argu­ment was seri­ous­ly con­sid­ered by those to whom it was main­ly addressed.” He became famous in Britain as a result of the work. The Road to Serf­dom was reviewed in lead­ing papers, jour­nals, and mag­a­zines. The ini­tial print run of 2,000 copies sold out with­in days. Accord­ing to British intel­lec­tu­al his­to­ri­an Richard Cock­ett, Hayek’s pub­lish­er, Rout­ledge, ordered an imme­di­ate reprint of 1,000 copies, and in the “fol­low­ing two years they were to be engaged in a los­ing race to sat­is­fy the huge pub­lic demand for the book.” Because of the wartime paper rationing, Rout­ledge could not print as many copies as it wished. The sum­mer fol­low­ing the work’s release, Hayek com­plain­ing­ly referred to is as “the unob­tain­able book.”

    There is a small ques­tion of his exact inten­tions for the book — what sort of impact he intend­ed. He wrote to Rout­ledge on May 30, 1943, that he had com­plet­ed a “semi-pop­u­lar” work, and per­haps even more sig­nif­i­cant­ly wrote on August 9, 1943, “I have made a spe­cial effort to get it ready rather ear­li­er than I expect­ed as I believe that there are many signs that the time is becom­ing rather favourable for the recep­tion of the book of this kind and I am espe­cial­ly anx­ious not to miss the oppor­tune moment. I believe you will find it worth­while mak­ing an effort to get it out before the win­ter”. Much of this was, how­ev­er, mere­ly the pro­mo­tion that any author engages in with his pub­lish­er. In an April 1945 speech, Hayek men­tioned that he did not expect more than a few hun­dred peo­ple to read the book.

    So it’s pret­ty clear that Hayek both want­ed to make an impact and real­ly did make that impact. Almost imme­di­ate­ly. And with the help of “lead­ing papers, jour­nals, and mag­a­zines”, at least in the UK.

    It’s also worth not­ing that if his desire to “get it out before the win­ter” was refer­ring to the win­ter of 1943 and if he did real­ly want to make a polit­i­cal splash the UK elec­tions were most­ly in 1945. For the US elec­tions in 1944, on the oth­er hand, the tim­ing and of the expo­sure of The Road to Serf­dom was pret­ty sig­nif­i­cant. The UK edi­tion was pub­lished in March of 1944. In the US it was­n’t as read­i­ly accept­ed in the media, but after get­ting reject­ed by a sev­er­al pub­lish­ers the book was pub­lished by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go in Sep­tem­ber 1944, with a glow­ing review by lib­er­tar­i­an jour­nal­ist Hen­ry Hazlitt on the front page of the Book Review Sec­tion in the New York Times (Sep­tem­ber 24,1944). It was sim­i­lar to the review Hazlitt gave to Hayek’s men­tor, Lud­wig von Mis­es six years ear­li­er in 1938:

    Remem­ber­ing Hen­ry Hazlitt

    Mis­es Dai­ly: Fri­day, July 27, 2007 by Bet­ti­na Bien Greaves

    Hen­ry Hazlitt was one of a very spe­cial breed, an eco­nom­ic jour­nal­ist who not only report­ed on eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal events in clear and under­stand­able lan­guage, but also made con­tri­bu­tions to eco­nom­ics.

    When I arrived at the Foun­da­tion for Eco­nom­ic Edu­ca­tion (FEE) in 1951, I was just a neo­phyte in the free­dom phi­los­o­phy. Hazlitt was a trustee, author of the best­selling Eco­nom­ics in One Les­son, and for sev­er­al years an edi­tor of the fort­night­ly free-mar­ket-ori­ent­ed news-com­men­tary mag­a­zine, The Free­man, pre­de­ces­sor of FEE’s The Free­man: Ideas on Lib­er­ty.

    But he was easy to approach; his man­ner was pleas­ant, not aloof or over­bear­ing. He was of aver­age height. His fea­tures were reg­u­lar, and he wore a mus­tache. He dressed appro­pri­ate­ly for a jour­nal­ist work­ing in mid­town Man­hat­tan in his day — in suit and tie. He was mod­est, always thought­ful of oth­ers, and one of the kind­est and most gra­cious men I have known. His friends called him Har­ry, and in time I too came to call him Har­ry. I was proud to have him as a friend.


    Hazlitt lived an active life as a news­pa­per­man. He belonged to sev­er­al lit­er­ary soci­eties, attend­ed their lun­cheons, and met the lead­ing authors and intel­lec­tu­als of his day. He admired, he once said “almost idol­ized,” H.L. Menck­en, whom he briefly suc­ceed­ed as edi­tor of The Amer­i­can Mer­cury. Hazlitt fre­quent­ly debat­ed promi­nent politi­cians on the radio: Vice Pres­i­dent Hen­ry Wal­lace, Sec­re­tary of State Dean Ache­son, and US Sen­a­tors Paul Dou­glas and Hubert H. Humphrey. He came to know prac­ti­cal­ly all the con­ser­v­a­tives and lib­er­tar­i­ans of his day, not only Mis­es and Ander­son, but also, among oth­ers, FEE founder Leonard E. Read, Isabel Pater­son, Rose Wilder Lane, John Cham­ber­lain, William F. Buck­ley Jr., Lawrence Fer­tig, Sylvester Petro, F.A. Hayek, and Ayn Rand.

    In 1938 Hazlitt reviewed for the New York Times the Eng­lish trans­la­tion of Mis­es’s Social­ism, describ­ing the book as “the most dev­as­tat­ing analy­sis of social­ism yet penned.” Mis­es was then in Switzer­land, but the two men cor­re­spond­ed briefly. Then in 1940 Hazlitt received a tele­phone call from Mis­es, new­ly arrived in New York. Hazlitt was dumb­found­ed: “It was as if John Stu­art Mill had risen from the dead!”

    Mis­es, a refugee from war-torn Europe, had been forced to leave his home in Vien­na, Aus­tria, a com­fort­able posi­tion in Gene­va, Switzer­land, and the aca­d­e­m­ic world of Europe where he was well known. He and Hazlitt soon became the best of friends, and “Lu,” short for Lud­wig, found a spe­cial place in Hazlit­t’s heart and mind.

    Hazlit­t’s Help­ing Hand

    When Mis­es phoned Hazlitt, Mis­es was try­ing to start a new life in the Unit­ed States. Hazlitt was always will­ing to help his friends. Through con­tacts in the State Depart­ment, he helped Mrs. Mis­es’s daugh­ter to escape Nazi-occu­pied Paris (this was before the Japan­ese attack on Pearl Har­bor, when the Unit­ed States was not yet at war). He asked his friend Ben­jamin Ander­son, who had asso­ciates at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty, to help Mis­es find a teach­ing posi­tion. Har­vard was­n’t inter­est­ed. Hazlitt arranged a din­ner for Mis­es with Alvin John­son, direc­tor of the New School for Social Research, where many Euro­pean vic­tims of Nazism had received posi­tions. But when John­son told Hazlitt that Mis­es was “too extreme,” Hazlitt real­ized that John­son only hired social­ists.

    By Hazlit­t’s arrange­ment, Mis­es wrote sev­er­al edi­to­ri­als for the New York Times. The Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion gave Mis­es a grant for sev­er­al years, enabling him to write Omnipo­tent Gov­ern­ment and Bureau­cra­cy. Mis­es soon obtained a posi­tion as vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor with the New York Uni­ver­si­ty Grad­u­ate School of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion. Then Hazlitt brought him to FEE, and Leonard Read hired him as eco­nom­ic advis­er.

    In the 1950s Mis­es’s NYU grad­u­ate sem­i­nar in eco­nom­ic the­o­ry was held in Gal­latin House diag­o­nal­ly across Wash­ing­ton Square from the apart­ment where Hazlitt lived with his wife, Frances. Hazlitt felt sor­ry for Mis­es hav­ing to speak every Thurs­day evening to a small group of stu­dents who were tired after work­ing all day at their reg­u­lar jobs. So to buck Mis­es up, Hazlitt began attend­ing the sem­i­nar. The top­ics var­ied from year to year — epis­te­mol­o­gy, his­to­ry, Marx­ism, cap­i­tal­ism, monop­oly, inter­ven­tion­ism, mon­e­tary the­o­ry, and social­ism. Mis­es fre­quent­ly cit­ed his­tor­i­cal illus­tra­tions and amus­ing exam­ples.

    “Inter­est­ing­ly,” Hazlitt said lat­er, “what I found was, no mat­ter how many times I would go, no mat­ter how often I heard in effect the same lec­tures, there would always be some sen­tence, some inci­den­tal phrase or illus­tra­tion that threw more light on the subject.”[2] On one occa­sion, laugh­ter broke out. Mis­es: “The Sovi­ets cen­sor bad books.” And then proud­ly with a twin­kle in his eye: “My books!”[3]

    Hazlitt con­sid­ered him­self espe­cial­ly lucky in count­ing Mis­es and his fel­low not­ed Aus­tri­an econ­o­mist F.A. Hayek (1899–1992) among his friends. Hazlitt had, of course, known both for many years through their writ­ings, but it was only after he reviewed their books that they met and became friends. When F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serf­dom came out in 1944, Hazlitt reviewed it for the Times, call­ing it “one of the most impor­tant books of our gen­er­a­tion.” The book became a best­seller. Hazlit­t’s review attract­ed Hayek’s atten­tion, and in 1947 he invit­ed Hazlitt to attend the impor­tant first meet­ing of the free-mar­ket-ori­ent­ed soci­ety he was orga­niz­ing, lat­er inter­na­tion­al­ly known as the Mont Pelerin Soci­ety.

    So whether or not Hayek was specif­i­cal­ly attempt­ing to pro­vide ammu­ni­tion for anti-FDR forces in 1944, the roll out of the book in the US and UK media sure was well posi­tioned to do just that.

    In relat­ed news, check this out: In Jan­u­ary of this year the cen­tral banks of Ger­many, Aus­tria, and Switzer­land all joined togeth­er to cre­ate a new prize for research in eco­nom­ics, the Carl Menger Prize for Research. Menger was the founder of the Aus­tri­an school of eco­nom­ics.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 14, 2014, 5:53 pm
  30. @Pterrafractyl–

    Good find! Impor­tant against the back­ground of what you’ve researched for us is the book “The Nazis Go Under­ground.” https://spitfirelist.com/books/the-nazis-go-underground/

    The plans for the von Clause­witz­ian post­war and the resur­gence of Ger­many began in earnest after the bat­tle of Stal­in­grad, con­clud­ed in Feb­ru­ary of 1943.

    That would be exact­ly when von Hayek was pen­ning his anti-FDR, anti-democ­ra­cy screed.



    Posted by Dave Emory | June 15, 2014, 11:48 am
  31. @Sampson: Part of what makes Brat’s writ­ings on usury inter­est­ing is that he seems to be try­ing to com­ing up with a moral argu­ment that will simul­ta­ne­ous­ly appease hard­core Chris­t­ian Recon­struc­tion­ists that want to see all forms of usury out­lawed (by a church-dom­i­nat­ed gov­ern­ment) and Wall Street. At least, when Brat says:

    “If we make all of the peo­ple good, mar­kets will be good. Mar­kets are made up of peo­ple. Sup­ply and Demand are curves, but they are also peo­ple. Noth­ing else. If mar­kets are bad, which they are, that means peo­ple are bad, which they are. Want good mar­kets? Change the peo­ple.”

    it sure sounds like he’s argu­ing that we should adopt Lais­sez-Faire laws and restrict reg­u­la­tions to the moral reg­u­la­tion of one’s con­science. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing method of thread­ing the libertarian/Dominionist nee­dle because the only law that would have to be enforced under this sys­tem is that you show obe­di­ence to your preach­er of choice. It’s like the Koch broth­er’s eco­nom­ic par­adise achieved through decen­tral­ized theoc­ra­cy:

    Talk 2 Action
    A Brat Stomps Can­tor: Is “Chris­t­ian Eco­nom­ics” an Oxy­moron?
    Chip Berlet
    Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 04:14:12 PM EST

    It depends on whose polit­i­cal ox is being gored and which unin­formed pun­dit is the moron. With the defeat of Eric Can­tor and elec­tion of David Brat the issue of “Chris­t­ian Eco­nom­ics” is gob­bling band­width. Much of the dis­cus­sion is long on rhetoric and short on facts. Here is a very brief overview. More resources will be post­ed at Talk to Action over the next few days.

    Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry: Brat’s elec­tion involves legit­i­mate vot­er anger; right-wing pop­ulism as a social move­ment, the revival of eco­nom­ic and reli­gious Calvin­ism, the rise of domin­ion­ism among Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tives; and the dri­ve to roll back Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt’s gov­ern­ment fund­ed social safe­ty net.

    Under­stand­ing the con­cept of “Chris­t­ian Eco­nom­ics” helps explain how these all got con­nect­ed and took polit­i­cal pow­er with the elec­tion of Ronald Rea­gan.

    There are numer­ous dis­cus­sions about eco­nom­ics, mon­ey, wealth, and pover­ty in the Bible in both the Old and New Tes­ta­ments. There are egal­i­tar­i­an and pro­gres­sive ver­sions that have emerged in forms of Catholi­cism and Protes­tantism, with clear exam­ples in the Social Gospel, Catholic Work­er, and Lib­er­a­tion The­ol­o­gy move­ments.

    The ver­sion of “Chris­t­ian Eco­nom­ics” cham­pi­oned by sec­tors of the Chris­t­ian Right in the Unit­ed States, how­ev­er, is root­ed in Lais­sez-Faire cap­i­tal­ism as shaped by the Aus­tri­an School econ­o­mists Lud­wig von Mis­es and Friedrich August von Hayek; and lat­er mod­i­fied by Chica­go School eco­nom­ic icon Mil­ton Frei­d­man. These ideas were the basis of Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan’s “Trick­le Down” the­o­ry which flowed down the legs of numer­ous elite right-wing ana­lysts.

    A more rad­i­cal right lib­er­tar­i­an ver­sion of Lais­sez-Faire “Chris­t­ian Eco­nom­ics” drips down from the body of work by R.J. Rush­doony and Gary North. Ron and Rand Paul embrace much of this ver­sion of Bib­li­cal eco­nom­ics which is the basis for Chris­t­ian Recon­struc­tion­ism, a mil­i­tant Protes­tant move­ment which is like Calvin­ism on crack.

    Both Rush­doony and North wrote for The Free­man, the polit­i­cal mag­a­zine of the Lais­sez-Faire Foun­da­tion for Eco­nom­ic Edu­ca­tion. They were even­tu­al­ly purged when the old guard lib­er­tar­i­ans thought they had drift­ed too far into a theo­crat­ic inter­pre­ta­tion of the rela­tion­ship between reli­gious the­ol­o­gy and polit­i­cal econ­o­my.

    Chris­t­ian Recon­struc­tion­ists engaged in an ideological/theological debate with Chris­t­ian Con­ser­v­a­tives in the US, result­ing in a frac­tious alliance against mod­ern social wel­fare lib­er­al­ism.

    Fred­er­ick Clark­son and I have dubbed this “Dominionism”–a polit­i­cal ten­den­cy that allows for elec­toral coop­er­a­tion among Chris­t­ian Recon­struc­tion­ism (and oth­er forms of docti­naire “Domin­ion The­ol­o­gy”) with the much larg­er vari­ety of the­olo­gies found in the con­tem­po­rary US Chris­t­ian Right. Note that not all con­ser­v­a­tive the­olo­gies are tied to right-wing polit­i­cal views.

    The elec­tion of David Brat is an exam­ple of the depth of anger toward elites cre­at­ed by a cri­sis of legit­i­ma­cy indict­ing the cur­rent polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic sys­tems. This wide­spread and legit­i­mate sense of anx­i­ety and anger is polit­i­cal­ly-shaped by mas­sive cash drops into elec­toral and leg­isla­tive cam­paigns by a hand­ful of wealthy elites that result (inten­tion­al­ly or not) in the spread of demo­niz­ing and scape­goat­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about elite betray­al with­in mass move­ments mobi­lized by right-wing pop­ulist rhetoric.


    It’s still unclear where exact­ly Brat is on the “Ayn Rand Sev­en Moun­tains Domin­ion­ism” spec­trum but it’s pret­ty clear that what he’s engaged in one of the seem­ing­ly end­less attempts to find a moral jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for eco­nom­ic sys­tems built for pre­da­tion. So Wall Street must be pret­ty pleased by what it sees in the right’s new ‘pop­ulist’ drag­on slay­er, although you have to won­der if the banksters ful­ly real­ize how much more poten­tial drag­on slay­ing might be deemed nec­es­sary.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 16, 2014, 10:22 am
  32. This week­end the Koch broth­ers host­ed their big donor net­work event where they roll out their plans for big new ini­tia­tive focus­ing on oppo­si­tion to ener­gy reg­u­la­tions. And what do we find today? The GOP has just start­ed talk­ing about the kind of manuev­ers in the Sen­ate designed to gut ener­gy indus­try reg­u­la­tions that sound awful­ly close to same tech­niques used in the past to cre­ate a shut­down-show­down scene­r­io this fall. Now that’s ser­vice:

    TPM DC
    Shut­down Wars Return? GOP Sen­a­tors Want To Block Oba­ma’s Cli­mate Rules

    Sahil Kapur – June 18, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

    If ear­ly Repub­li­can enthu­si­asm is any indi­ca­tion, the upcom­ing Sept. 30 dead­line to keep the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment open could turn into an all-out war over Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma’s exec­u­tive actions to com­bat cli­mate change.

    As TPM report­ed ear­li­er this week, senior House Repub­li­cans are con­sid­er­ing using appro­pri­a­tions leg­is­la­tion to block the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agen­cy’s new restric­tions on coal-fired pow­er plants, aimed at cut­ting cli­mate-warm­ing pol­lu­tion by 30 per­cent by 2030.

    On Tues­day, numer­ous Sen­ate Repub­li­cans expressed strong sup­port for the idea.

    “I think there’s going to be a lot of sup­port on our side for try­ing to block that. And I hope with some Democ­rats too,” Sen­ate Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence Chair John Thune (R‑SD) told TPM. “The pow­er of the purse is one pow­er Con­gress has, and if you want to send a clear mes­sage to the admin­is­tra­tion about a series of reg­u­la­tions that you think are very detri­men­tal, one way to do that would be through the appro­pri­a­tions process.”

    Thune, the No. 3 GOP sen­a­tor, said his par­ty will sup­port “any­thing we can do to pre­vent the admin­is­tra­tion from going for­ward with what are real­ly poor­ly timed, very bur­den­some, very expen­sive ... reg­u­la­tions.”

    Sen­ate Bud­get Com­mit­tee Rank­ing Mem­ber Jeff Ses­sions (R‑AL) said Repub­li­cans ought to con­sid­er revers­ing what he described as pres­i­den­tial over­reach by Oba­ma on envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions.

    “I think Con­gress needs to give seri­ous thought to uti­liz­ing its con­sti­tu­tion­al pow­er — the pow­er to fund or not fund,” he told TPM. Asked about using the appro­pri­a­tions bill to undo the EPA rules, he said, “That’s one of the pow­ers that Con­gress clear­ly has.”

    The Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee will con­sid­er gov­ern­ment fund­ing bills this week. If Repub­li­cans insist on pro­hibit­ing imple­men­ta­tion of the EPA rule in order to keep the gov­ern­ment run­ning past Sep­tem­ber, it could spark anoth­er shut­down stand­off. Democ­rats strong­ly sup­port Oba­ma’s envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions and they intend to block attempts to undo them.

    Retir­ing Sen. Sax­by Cham­b­liss (R‑GA) told TPM the idea is “some­thing that will be dis­cussed, I’m sure.”

    “Obvi­ous­ly there are a lot of us that are con­cerned about those reg­u­la­tions and it’s going to be a huge blow to the econ­o­my,” he said. “And what­ev­er we can do to keep that from hap­pen­ing, we’re going to con­sid­er it.”

    Sen. Ron John­son (R‑WI) told TPM he’d be “total­ly sup­port­ive” of using gov­ern­ment fund­ing leg­is­la­tion to block the EPA rules.


    Sen. John Hoeven (R‑ND), a mem­ber of the Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, said he’ll do every­thing in his pow­er to fight the EPA’s so-called “waters of the U.S.” rule — a reg­u­la­tion pro­posed in April aimed at pro­tect­ing the coun­try’s streams and wet­lands from pol­lu­tion — which agribusi­ness­es fear will harm them.

    “I strong­ly oppose the pro­posed rule,” Hoeven said. Asked if he intends to attach an amend­ment to the appro­pri­a­tions bill block­ing the EPA rule, he said, “That’s my intent. ... Any­thing I can attach it to that makes it though — I’m gonna do it.”

    The dis­pute that usu­al­ly sparks shut­downs is about how much the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment should spend. That’s not a prob­lem this time because the two sides have agreed to spend $1.014 tril­lion in fis­cal year 2015. But the envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions have become a cause célèbre in Repub­li­can cir­cles, ignit­ing inter­est in find­ing ways to force the pres­i­dent to back down.

    TPM asked Sen. John­son if he wor­ries the strat­e­gy could lead to anoth­er gov­ern­ment shut­down just one month before the con­gres­sion­al elec­tions.

    “We should not, obvi­ous­ly — the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment does enough harm to our econ­o­my. We need to bring a lit­tle more cer­tain­ty,” the sen­a­tor said. “So I’m not in favor of threat­en­ing gov­ern­ment shut­downs.”

    It’s too ear­ly to know if Repub­li­cans will with­hold sup­port for fund­ing the gov­ern­ment unless Democ­rats agree to block the EPA rules. But if they pur­sue the course sev­er­al of them have sug­gest­ed and refuse to back down, this sum­mer could turn into a replay of last year’s stand­off — only over envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions rather than Oba­macare — where one side backs down or Con­gress shuts down parts of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

    Of course, if the GOP real­ly did trig­ger a shut­down right before the midterms you’d have to won­der why giv­en the kind of vot­er reac­tion we can expect. Maybe it could all a giant distraction...a strain of crazy that’s sort of orthog­o­nal to the GOP’s Benghazi/Obamacare freak­out that may not play so well with the vot­ers this fall. Could it be a GOP-led dis­trac­tion to dis­tract from the GOP? Hey, it could hap­pen.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 18, 2014, 9:11 am
  33. With the ongo­ing frack­ing boom, more and more local com­mu­ni­ties are find­ing that they can shake, rat­tle, and roll their way to pros­per­i­ty, whether they want to or not:

    NBC News
    Quakes Rat­tle Con­fi­dence in Texas Ener­gy Boom
    By Miguel Llanos

    It was­n’t the semi-trucks rum­bling down coun­try roads, or the dust, or the nat­ur­al gas wells that popped up around their homes that final­ly got to res­i­dents of Azle and Reno, Texas. It was the earth­quakes.

    These weren’t major quakes, mag­ni­tude 3.6 was the biggest, but no one in those North Texas towns had ever felt tremors before. Now in just three months, between last Novem­ber and Jan­u­ary, 34 quakes large enough to be felt shook homes, cracked walls and foun­da­tions, scared hors­es and pets, and opened a few sink­holes.

    The ones you can feel have since stopped, but small­er ones con­tin­ue: some 300, in addi­tion to a 1,000 or so tiny tremors, says Heather DeShon, a South­ern Methodist Uni­ver­si­ty seis­mol­o­gist lead­ing a team study­ing the out­break in the area about 20 miles north­west of Fort Worth.

    Locals, and their elect­ed lead­ers, are con­vinced the quakes are due to the nation­wide drilling boom sparked by a process called hydraulic frac­tur­ing, or frack­ing. The process forces a mix of water and chem­i­cals into under­ground rocks to free trapped oil or gas.

    Once used, the mix of water and chem­i­cals is typ­i­cal­ly got­ten rid of by inject­ing it into a dis­pos­al well. It’s that step, not the oil or gas pro­duc­tion itself, that can trig­ger quakes by loos­en­ing seis­mic plates, stud­ies in oth­er areas of the coun­try have con­clud­ed.

    The indus­try and Texas reg­u­la­tors say that has­n’t been proven in the Azle-Reno area and are ask­ing locals for patience while DeShon­’s team comes to a con­clu­sion. Azle May­or Alan Brun­drett had oth­er thoughts, telling MSNBC’s Rachel Mad­dow Show last Jan­u­ary that “we def­i­nite­ly need to get the wells shut down.”

    Reno May­or Lyn­da Stokes says it’s not right to ask for patience when res­i­dents are on edge, fear­ing anoth­er out­break and worse dam­age. “There are stud­ies out there” show­ing the con­nec­tion, she tells NBC News. “I feel they are drag­ging their feet.”

    The bad blood in Reno and Azle has hap­pened else­where in Texas and across the coun­try.

    How did it get to this, espe­cial­ly in a pro-ener­gy state like Texas?

    “Frack­ing came so quick­ly, much more quick­ly than we could fig­ure out how to do it right,” says Rus­sell Gold, author of “The Boom: How Frack­ing Ignit­ed the Amer­i­can Ener­gy Rev­o­lu­tion and Changed the World”.

    Thou­sands of dis­pos­al wells were approved “with­out ask­ing if there were active faults near­by,” adds Gold, whose full-time job is report­ing on ener­gy issues for the Wall Street Jour­nal. The frack­ing boom has brought “ener­gy to our back­yard,” he adds, and some­times that cre­ates fear. “Earth­quakes are a very pal­pa­ble exam­ple of that.”

    As a result, com­mu­ni­ties are get­ting more vocal, even in Texas.

    “With­out ques­tion, local gov­ern­ments are demand­ing a say in reg­u­lat­ing oil and gas,” says Gold. “That’s set­ting up a rather intense arm wrestling match between local and state gov­ern­ments.”

    The indus­try is reg­u­lat­ed by the Texas Rail­road Com­mis­sion, which has stood its ground, say­ing it needs to wait for the sci­en­tif­ic report before tak­ing any action.

    “There has been no sci­en­tif­ic proof that a spe­cif­ic dis­pos­al well or wells have caused the Azle-area earth­quakes,” says com­mis­sion spokes­woman Ramona Nye.

    At a pub­lic forum last Wednes­day, res­i­dents made clear they dis­agree.

    The dozens in atten­dance broke out into applause and cheers when Stokes, asked what res­i­dents want, was blunt: “I think they want to shut those wells down.”

    Res­i­dents also did­n’t like hear­ing from DeShon that her team’s study could take a year to com­plete.

    For all the ten­sion, the issue is one that can be resolved, says Gold.

    “Of all the prob­lems with frack­ing, fix­ing earth­quakes is one of the eas­i­er ones,” he says, cit­ing options like reduc­ing injec­tion pres­sure, recy­cling the waste­water and not plac­ing dis­pos­al wells near fault lines.

    Azle May­or Brun­drett agrees. “It’s not that all injec­tion wells are bad,” he told MSNBC. “You do research before you choose a loca­tion for an injec­tion well.”

    Gold says “the trick­i­er issues” raised by frack­ing include air emis­sions, methane leaks and pro­tect­ing aquifers from waste­water.


    Yes, com­mu­ni­ties with no his­to­ries of earth­quakes are dis­cov­er­ing that their New Nor­mal includes things like sink­holes, cracked foun­da­tions, and a dom­i­nant indus­try that seems to always want more stud­ies into the dan­gers of frack­ing while it pro­ceeds to frack the town. And, “of all the prob­lems with frack­ing, fix­ing earth­quakes is one of the eas­i­er ones”. And that might be true. For exam­ple, fix­ing the prob­lem of pre­vent­ing the frack­ing indus­try from over­rid­ing local objec­tions is clear­ly a much more intractable prob­lem:

    The Wall Street Jour­nal
    The Frack­ing Fight­’s New Front Line
    Cities, States Begin to Lim­it Oil-and-Gas Drilling to Pro­tect Res­i­dents, Scenic Areas

    By Rus­sell Gold

    June 4, 2014 2:14 p.m. ET

    As the U.S. oil-and-gas boom rolls into its sec­ond decade, a new idea is start­ing to res­onate with reg­u­la­tors and com­mu­ni­ties: Cer­tain places should sim­ply be off-lim­its to drilling.

    Note that it’s appar­ent­ly a new idea amongst reg­u­la­tors and com­mu­ni­ties that some places should be off-lim­its to drilling.


    That is not how it has worked up until now. Over the past decade, oil and gas wells have been drilled for hydraulic frac­tur­ing in sub­ur­ban sub­di­vi­sions, air­ports, pub­lic parks and golf cours­es. As long as ener­gy com­pa­nies leased the min­er­al rights, they could drill almost any­where.

    Now this all-or-noth­ing approach is start­ing to weak­en as the frack­ing jug­ger­naut, which has cre­at­ed jobs and low­ered the U.S. trade deficit, has left some com­mu­ni­ties feel­ing tram­pled.

    Some cities have used their zon­ing author­i­ty to keep frack­ing far from schools and set back from homes. Fort Worth, Texas, has a drilling ordi­nance that runs more than 50 pages.

    North Dako­ta, which has rolled out the red car­pet for rigs, is recon­sid­er­ing whether it should issue drilling per­mits near some his­tor­i­cal sites, parks and areas of par­tic­u­lar beau­ty. The state last month said that any requests to drill near des­ig­nat­ed areas would result in addi­tion­al scruti­ny and require pub­lic com­ment.

    The new approach reflects “grow­ing momen­tum from the pub­lic to make sure the state is pro­tect­ing some of the most scenic and his­toric places,” said Ali­son Rit­ter, a spokes­woman for the state’s Depart­ment of Min­er­al Resources.

    There are valid rea­sons to ban indus­tri­al activ­i­ty, said Mark Zoback, a Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor who served on a shale-devel­op­ment advi­so­ry board for the U.S. Ener­gy Depart­ment. “You would­n’t allow a large-scale food-dis­tri­b­u­tion ware­house to be built just any­where, with hun­dreds of semis com­ing and going 24/7.”

    Frack­ing involves inject­ing mil­lions of gal­lons of water and chem­i­cals into a well to crack open dense rock and allow oil and gas to flow out. More than 15 mil­lion Amer­i­cans live with­in a mile of a well that has been drilled since 2000.

    “We are not advo­cat­ing that we should drill every­where,” said Eric Wohlschlegel, the spokesman for the Amer­i­can Petro­le­um Insti­tute, the oil indus­try’s Wash­ing­ton-based lob­by­ing group. “The best folks to deter­mine whether an area is safe and appro­pri­ate to frack are the state and state reg­u­la­tors.”

    The indus­try gen­er­al­ly prefers deal­ing with states, in part to avoid fights with indi­vid­ual munic­i­pal­i­ties and because the mes­sage that frack­ing is safe and offers eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits often gets a recep­tive audi­ence in state cap­i­tals.

    But putting the deci­sions in the hands of the state can cause con­flict. Many peo­ple who oppose frack­ing find that some local author­i­ties are more like­ly than state offi­cials to ban the prac­tice.

    “This issue is very much unde­cid­ed and will con­tin­ue to dom­i­nate lit­i­ga­tion in many states,” said Han­nah Wise­man, an assis­tant law pro­fes­sor at Flori­da State Uni­ver­si­ty.

    In 2012, Penn­syl­va­nia passed a law that pre­vent­ed town­ships from using zon­ing to keep frack­ing at bay. A coali­tion of munic­i­pal­i­ties sued, and last Decem­ber the state Supreme Court struck down por­tions of the law, restor­ing pow­er to com­mu­ni­ties.

    Whether cities can declare them­selves off lim­its to frack­ing also is roil­ing Col­orado. Vot­ers in Long­mont, north of Den­ver, two years ago changed their city char­ter to pro­hib­it frack­ing. The oil lob­by sued to over­turn the ban. The case has­n’t been decid­ed, and four more Col­orado cities have banned frack­ing in the mean­time.

    A munic­i­pal ban may even touch down in Texas, the biggest oil-pro­duc­ing state in the coun­try. Frack­ing oppo­nents have col­lect­ed enough sig­na­tures to put a ban on the Novem­ber bal­lot in Den­ton, a small col­lege town north of Dal­las.

    The next front in the bat­tle could be Cal­i­for­nia. Tom Stey­er, a wealthy envi­ron­men­tal­ist and polit­i­cal activist, in March sug­gest­ed that frack­ing should only be allowed in coun­ties where vot­ers approved the prac­tice by a two-thirds vote.

    “It will give com­mu­ni­ties the right to deter­mine whether frack­ing real­ly is in their inter­est,” he said in a speech at the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­ven­tion.

    Rock Zier­man, chief exec­u­tive of the Cal­i­for­nia Inde­pen­dent Pro­duc­ers Asso­ci­a­tion, said that deci­sions on drilling should be left to state reg­u­la­tors. “I think the experts should reg­u­late it, and the experts are the geol­o­gists and petro­le­um engi­neers at the divi­sion of oil and gas,” he said.

    Courts have gen­er­al­ly ruled that states can trump local ordi­nances. In 2005, the Fifth U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Appeals found that Louisiana could pre­vent Shreve­port from ban­ning drilling with­in 1,000 feet of Cross Lake, the city’s main water source.

    The Ohio Supreme Court this year heard a case that will deter­mine whether cities or the state have the upper hand. An inter­me­di­ate appel­late court ruled for the state against Munroe Falls, a city near Akron, which tried to lim­it drilling. The Supreme Court has yet to rule.


    As the arti­cle points out, “courts have gen­er­al­ly ruled that states can trump local ordi­nances”. “Frack, baby, frack” does­n’t hap­pen on its own. But there’s also clear­ly a back­lack com­ing. Or, more specif­i­cal­ly, many small back­lash­es. Town by town:

    Texas gas town con­sid­ers ban­ning frack­ing
    Post­ed: Jun 19, 2014 12:53 AM CST Updat­ed: Jun 20, 2014 1:36 AM CST
    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    DENTON, Texas (AP) — Nat­ur­al gas mon­ey has been good to this Texas city: It has new parks, a new golf course and miles of grassy soc­cer fields. The busi­ness dis­trict is get­ting a makeover, and the air­port is bustling, too.

    For more than a decade, Den­ton has drawn its lifeblood from the huge gas reserves that lie beneath its streets. The gas fields have pro­duced a bil­lion dol­lars in min­er­al wealth and pumped more than $30 mil­lion into city bank accounts.

    But this for­mer farm­ing cen­ter north of Dal­las is con­sid­er­ing a revolt. Unlike oth­er com­mu­ni­ties that have embraced the lucra­tive drilling boom made pos­si­ble by hydraulic frac­tur­ing, lead­ers here have tem­porar­i­ly halt­ed all frack­ing as they con­sid­er an ordi­nance that could make theirs the first city in the state to per­ma­nent­ly ban the prac­tice.

    “I think the peo­ple of Den­ton real­ly want to keep the liv­abil­i­ty of the town,” said Tay­lor Schrang, a 28-year-old per­son­al train­er. “And frack­ing is pret­ty obtru­sive.”

    If the city coun­cil rejects the ban, it will go to vot­ers in Novem­ber.

    The col­lege town has pre­served much of its agri­cul­tur­al past. His­toric down­town streets lined with 19th-cen­tu­ry build­ings open up to expan­sive fields with green­hous­es and graz­ing cat­tle. But drilling is nev­er far away, with some 275 active gas wells pierc­ing the earth.

    The will­ing­ness to reject frack­ing in the heart of oil and gas coun­try reflects a broad­er shift in think­ing. In place of gas drills, some of Den­ton’s 120,000 res­i­dents envi­sion a future in which their city is known for envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly com­merce and the nation’s largest com­mu­ni­ty gar­den. They’ve even embarked on a cam­paign to per­suade the mak­er of Sriracha hot sauce to expand its mas­sive pep­per-grind­ing busi­ness here — a prospect that appeals to the local farm-to-table cul­ture.


    Around the time frack­ing began in Den­ton, in 2000, the pop­u­la­tion start­ed to swell, along with doubts about the drilling. More grad­u­ates from the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Texas and from Texas Wom­an’s Uni­ver­si­ty chose to stay in town and set up small busi­ness­es. Then sim­mer­ing con­cerns over the prox­im­i­ty of new wells to res­i­den­tial areas came to a head in 2009, when nurse Cathy McMullen orga­nized a 300-per­son protest against five wells planned in a mead­ow across from a city park.

    The Den­ton Drilling Aware­ness Group pro­posed tighter frack­ing rules and even won a series of tem­po­rary bans on new drilling per­mits.

    At the same time, drillers defied city rules that required them to line waste­water pits and pro­hib­it­ed them from burn­ing off, or “flar­ing,” waste gas in res­i­den­tial areas.

    “All that did was make peo­ple so fired up,” McMullen said. “We had no choice” but to call for an out­right ban, she said.

    It also helped that only 2 per­cent of Den­ton’s res­i­dents see roy­al­ties from the drilling, McMullen said, cit­ing an analy­sis of city appraisal records on min­er­al prop­er­ty val­ues between 2002 and 2013.

    Scores of oth­er cities and some states have con­sid­ered sim­i­lar bans, but few, if any, have Den­ton’s close ties to the oil and gas indus­try. The issue could test whether any com­mu­ni­ty in Texas — the nation’s biggest oil and gas pro­duc­er — can rebuff the indus­try and still thrive.

    The debate comes as the city tries to wean its busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty off fos­sil-fuel rev­enue. The Sriracha cam­paign is the high­est-pro­file part of that effort. Anoth­er exam­ple is Tetra Points Fuels, which pro­duces ethanol from expired soda and oth­er sug­ary drinks that have been thrown away.

    If the frack­ing ban is adopt­ed, it’s unclear whether the law would hold up in court. Cities in Col­orado and Cal­i­for­nia are being sued by drilling oper­a­tors over sim­i­lar bans, and own­ers of min­er­al rights here are already mak­ing their case for more drilling.

    Ed Ire­land, direc­tor of the Bar­nett Shale Ener­gy Edu­ca­tion Coun­cil, a pro-indus­try group, said Den­ton can’t imple­ment a ban because the city in 2000 began issu­ing drilling per­mits to oper­a­tors “in per­pe­tu­ity.”

    Land in Texas is split between the sur­face and the min­er­als below. In Den­ton, most of the min­er­al rights are held by estates and trusts out­side Texas, accord­ing to a pre­lim­i­nary study by Uni­ver­si­ty of North Texas researchers who sup­port the ban.


    Yes, “if the frack­ing ban is adopt­ed, it’s unclear whether the law would hold up in court” because you can be pret­ty sure that any com­mu­ni­ty that bans frack­ing is going to get sued. And as the arti­cle points out, “most of the min­er­al rights are held by estates and trusts out­side Texas”. So the suc­cess of any local attempts to ban frack­ing is prob­a­bly going to be deter­mined, in part, by the polit­i­cal influ­ence of the inter­ests that own those under­ground min­er­al rights.

    On the oth­er hand, if the Koch/ALEC-led cam­paign to get the the states wage a bat­tle against the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment is com­plete­ly suc­cess­ful, it’s unclear why that Koch-backed hijack­ing of states gov­ern­ments could­n’t be eas­i­ly trans­lat­ed into a state attack on local frack­ing bans.

    And, of course, since the Koch’s have also decid­ed to extend their influ­ence ped­dling to local elec­tions around the coun­try, is unclear why any local­i­ty is going to be con­sid­ered off-lim­its to med­dling by the Kochs are any oth­er pow­er­ful out­side inter­ests. After all, “frack, baby, frack” and isn’t the only rule of the day. “Bribe, baby, bribe...and then threat­en” is part of the sta­tus quo too. And don’t for­get the unprece­dent­ed earth­quakes.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 21, 2014, 6:55 pm
  34. If you thought the sto­ry about Maine’s gov­er­nor hold­ing secret meet­ings with Sov­er­eign Cit­i­zens was rather eye­brow-rais­ing, the offi­cial Texas Repub­li­can Par­ty Plat­form now declares that all fed­er­al enforce­ment activ­i­ties “must be con­duct­ed under the aus­pices of the coun­ty sher­iff with juris­dic­tion in that coun­ty.” Cliv­en Bundy may have left the GOP , but that does­n’t mean he aban­doned the GOP’s heart. This spir­it of Bundy lives on in Texas:

    The State Repub­li­can Par­ty in Texas Is Now the Cra­zi­est in Amer­i­ca
    It seems almost point­less to men­tion this but there is sim­ply no state Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty in any of the 50 states that is so clear­ly, obvi­ous­ly dement­ed.

    By Charles P. Pierce on July 7, 2014

    If you want to see the clear­est symp­toms of the pri­on dis­ease that has devoured the brain of the Repub­li­can par­ty, the state Repub­li­can par­ty is your Patient Zero. And, before a whole bunch of peo­ple in the Belt­way media playpen begin min­i­miz­ing this crazi­ness because it pret­ty much shat­ters the whole idea of Both Sides Doing It with­out which most of those peo­ple can’t get out of bed in the morn­ing. This isn’t four guys in camo in Ida­ho. This isn’t a guy broad­cast­ing on a short-wave from upper Michi­gan, or receiv­ing the truth about chem­trails and the Illu­mi­nati through his teeth. This is the Repub­li­can par­ty rep­re­sent­ing the state from which he got our last Repub­li­can pres­i­dent, and one of the biggest states in the Union. This is what it believes, as summed up with realit-based par­en­thet­i­cals by Hen­drik Hertzberg at The New York­er:

    Let’s pro­ceed to pol­i­cy. In the next of its forty pages, the plat­form demands, among oth­er things: That the Texas Leg­is­la­ture should nul­li­fy-indeed, “ignore, oppose, refuse, and nullify”-federal laws it does­n’t like. (Unmen­tioned is the fact that, begin­ning in 1809, the Supreme Court has stead­fast­ed­ly reject­ed state nul­li­fi­ca­tion of fed­er­al laws.); That when it comes to “unelect­ed bureaucrats”-i.e., pret­ty much the entire fed­er­al work force above the jan­i­to­r­i­al lev­el-Con­gress should “defund and abol­ish these posi­tions.”; That the Sev­en­teenth Amend­ment, which was adopt­ed in 1913, be repealed, so that “the appoint­ment of Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors” can again be made by state leg­is­la­tors, not by vot­ers. (Admit­ted­ly, the Texas Leg­is­la­ture could hard­ly do worse.), That all fed­er­al “enforce­ment activ­i­ties” with­in the bor­ders of Texas-includ­ing, pre­sum­ably, the activ­i­ties of F.B.I. agents, Jus­tice Depart­ment pros­e­cu­tors, air mar­shals, immi­gra­tion offi­cers, agri­cul­tur­al inspec­tors, and tax auditors-“must be con­duct­ed under the aus­pices of the coun­ty sher­iff with juris­dic­tion in that coun­ty.”

    Keep an eye on that last sen­tence. The Repub­li­can par­ty of the state of Texas, a state which has 38 elec­toral votes and which will send 153 del­e­gates to the 2016 Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion, has endorsed the exact the­o­ry of gov­ern­ment that was pro­mul­gat­ed by the gun-tot­ing yahoos at the Bundy Ranch. And there’s more.

    ...there are plen­ty of things that Texas Repub­li­cans plan to do away with entire­ly-or, to use their pre­ferred word, things they would sub­ject to “abol­ish­ment.” (For Cal­houn con­ser­v­a­tives, I sup­pose, “abo­li­tion” has regret­table over­tones.) A par­tial list: Per­son­al-income tax­es; Prop­er­ty tax­es; Estate tax­es; Cap­i­tal-gains tax­es; Fran­chise and busi­ness-income tax­es; The gift tax; Min­i­mum-wage laws; Social Secu­ri­ty (“We sup­port an imme­di­ate and order­ly tran­si­tion to a sys­tem of pri­vate pen­sions”); The Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency;The Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion and all its func­tions; “Unelect­ed bureau­crats”; “Any and all fed­er­al agen­cies not based on an enu­mer­at­ed pow­er grant­ed by the Unit­ed States Fed­er­al Con­sti­tu­tion”; Con­gres­sion­al pen­sions; Supreme Court juris­dic­tion in cas­es involv­ing abor­tion, reli­gious free­dom, and the Bill of Rights; The Fed­er­al Reserve; “For­eign aid, except in cas­es of nation­al defense or cat­a­stroph­ic dis­as­ters, with Con­gres­sion­al approval,” Oba­macare (but you knew that already).

    The Repub­li­can par­ty of the state of Texas, a state that went for Mitt Rom­ney by over two mil­lion votes, would like to do away with the Fed­er­al Reserve, and any Supreme Court juris­dic­tion in any case involv­ing the Bill Of Rights. And, yes, there’s more.

    Things that the Texas Repub­li­cans sup­port: With­draw­al from the Unit­ed Nations, the Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund, the World Trade Orga­ni­za­tion, and the World Bank; “Tra­di­tion­al meth­ods of dis­ci­pline, includ­ing cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment;” “Reduc­ing tax­pay­er fund­ing to all lev­els of edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions,” Return­ing to “the time-test­ed pre­cious met­al stan­dard for the Unit­ed States dol­lar.”

    The Repub­li­can Par­ty of the state of Texas, a state in which north of 45 per­cent of the vot­ers iden­ti­fy as Repub­li­cans, would like to bring back spank­ing.


    Beyond the obvi­ous les­son that the GOP has been com­plete­ly rad­i­cal­ized and is intent on dis­man­tling life as we know it ASAP (sor­ry robot armies of the future, there’s a line), one of the key lessons we can take from news like this is that the Texas GOP isn’t just crazy. The Texas GOP is becom­ing so crazy that’s there’s no way it will be able to uncrazy itself for a long, long time. You can’t shut off “Tal­iban mode” overnight.

    So beyond the omi­nous impli­ca­tions this has for the entire US, you real­ly have to won­der what this is going to mean for the peo­ple of Texas now the GOP is open­ly embrac­ing gov­ern­men­tal neg­li­gence as the state cre­do. What can the res­i­dents expect? That’s hard to say, although we can be pret­ty sure the results, giv­en enough time, should be explo­sive. Lit­er­al­ly explo­sive:

    First Bill In Response To West Explo­sion Meets GOP Push­back

    AUSTIN (July 1, 2014) The first bill draft­ed by Texas law­mak­ers in response to the April 17, 2013 fer­til­iz­er plant explo­sion in West that killed 15 peo­ple met some push­back Tues­day from Repub­li­cans con­cerned about the cost.

    GOP House mem­bers said Tues­day they wor­ried about requir­ing small fer­til­iz­er oper­a­tors in rur­al Texas coun­ties to pay for new reg­u­la­tions intend­ed to improve safe­ty.

    State Rep. Joe Pick­ett, D‑El Paso, authored the ear­ly draft bill after House Com­mit­tee on Home­land Secu­ri­ty and Pub­lic Safe­ty spent the past year inves­ti­gat­ing explo­sion.

    Pick­ett, who chairs the com­mit­tee, said Texas will have anoth­er “major dis­as­ter” with­out any changes to the law.

    The draft mea­sure includes requir­ing ammo­ni­um nitrate to be stored in non-com­bustible con­tain­ers.

    State Rep. George Laven­der, R‑Texarkana, how­ev­er, called the ear­ly pro­pos­als “overkill.”

    In April State Fire Mar­shal Chris Con­nealy told the com­mit­tee he wants 46 facil­i­ties that store ammo­ni­um nitrate in Texas to make safe­ty improve­ments in the wake of the dead­ly explo­sion.

    Con­nealy told law­mak­er that facil­i­ties sim­i­lar to West Fer­til­iz­er Co., should be giv­en three years either to install sprin­klers or to retro­fit their build­ings to mit­i­gate the poten­tial for explo­sions.

    A total of as much as 64 tons of ammo­ni­um nitrate was stored in wood­en bins in the wood­en build­ing in West, 28 to 34 tons of which explod­ed, while an addi­tion­al 20 to 30 tons in the build­ing and anoth­er 100 tons in a near­by rail car did not explode.

    The total amount of ammo­ni­um nitrate on the site was about 150 tons.

    Mean­while Tues­day, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Greg Abbott, who ear­li­er decid­ed that the state does­n’t have to dis­close the poten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals stored at plants around Texas, said ordi­nary Tex­ans are free to ask the plants on their own.

    The Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Tues­day defend­ed his rul­ing that the Depart­ment of State Health Ser­vices can keep loca­tions of facil­i­ties with pos­si­bly dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals con­fi­den­tial, but added, that any­one can ask com­pa­nies what they’re stor­ing and get answers with­in 10 days.

    Abbott said offi­cial con­fi­den­tial­i­ty can stop ter­ror­ists, but he called the rul­ing a “win-win” since every­one statewide can learn about “chem­i­cals stored in any plant.”


    Are you impressed with Tex­as­’s new “anti-ter­ror­ism” plan as part of the state’s ‘Sov­er­eign Cit­i­zen’ shift? No, not the part about restrict­ing local res­i­dents’ access to the infor­ma­tion about what dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals might be stored near their homes. That seems rather dubi­ous. No, the part about refus­ing any new safe­ty reg­u­la­tions for small fer­til­iz­er oper­a­tors just a year after the West Texas fer­til­iz­er plant explo­sion. It’s bril­liant! Because how on earth can ter­ror­ists threat­en a state pop­u­lace with vio­lent explo­sions when vio­lent explo­sions are just an every­day expect­ed part of life? If some ter­ror­ist group tar­get­ed a fer­til­iz­er plant and blew it up, well, how could any­one say that’s a ter­ror­ist attack? It could have just been one of the tick­ing time bombs of under-main­tained chem­i­cal facil­i­ties that went off. When Texas Con­gress­man Pete Ses­sions talked about the GOP adopt­ing the Tal­iban as a mod­el back in 2009, who would have thought the com­ment was that lit­er­al? Or that self-direct­ed? Still...it’s bril­liant and very, very brave!

    So where did Tex­as­’s Attor­ney Gen­er­al get his bold new idea? He’s run­ning for gov­er­nor so it would be use­ful to know how the man thinks. Was this hatch dur­ing a recent Tal­iban-style secret meet­ing? Maybe he came up with it while plan­ning the next show­down with the BLM. Where indeed...:

    Dal­las News
    Mon­ey from Koch inter­ests flows to gov­er­nor can­di­date Greg Abbott

    Senior Polit­i­cal Writer

    Pub­lished: 01 July 2014 11:05 PM
    Updat­ed: 02 July 2014 07:42 AM

    AUSTIN — Five months after an ammo­ni­um nitrate explo­sion that killed 15 peo­ple in West, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Greg Abbott received a $25,000 con­tri­bu­tion from a first-time donor to his polit­i­cal cam­paigns — the head of Koch Indus­tries’ fer­til­iz­er divi­sion.

    The donor, Chase Koch, is the son of one of the bil­lion­aire broth­ers atop Koch Indus­tries’ polit­i­cal­ly influ­en­tial busi­ness empire.

    Abbott, who has since been crit­i­cized for allow­ing Texas chem­i­cal facil­i­ties to keep secret the con­tents of their plants, received more than $75,000 from Koch inter­ests after the April 2013 explo­sion at the West Fer­til­iz­er Co. stor­age and dis­tri­b­u­tion facil­i­ty, cam­paign finance records filed with the state showed.

    The West acci­dent focused pub­lic atten­tion on the stor­age of poten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals across Texas and reg­u­la­to­ry gaps in pre­ven­tion, data-gath­er­ing, enforce­ment and dis­clo­sure to pre­vent explo­sions in the future. In addi­tion to the 15 deaths, scores of peo­ple were injured, and homes and busi­ness­es were lev­eled.

    The issue has re-emerged for Abbott in his run for gov­er­nor. The Repub­li­can nom­i­nee recent­ly declared that records on what chem­i­cals the facil­i­ties stored could remain hid­den, cit­ing state laws meant to deter poten­tial ter­ror­ist threats.

    The cam­paign of his Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent, Wendy Davis, has charged Abbott with pro­tect­ing cam­paign donors. On Tues­day, Abbott strug­gled to explain how Tex­ans might learn of dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals in their midst.

    “You know where they are if you dri­ve around,” Abbott told reporters at an event in Austin. “You can ask every facil­i­ty whether or not they have chem­i­cals or not. You can ask them if they do and they can tell you, ‘Well, we do have chem­i­cals or we don’t have chem­i­cals.’ And if they do, they tell which ones they have.”


    Opin­ion from May

    For decades, Tex­ans want­i­ng to know about com­pa­nies keep­ing such chem­i­cals could find out from the state.

    But Abbott has said that those records are closed. And the state agency that col­lects and main­tains infor­ma­tion on large chem­i­cal sup­plies has stopped shar­ing it with the pub­lic.

    Abbott con­tends his opin­ion, issued in May, strikes a bal­ance. On Tues­day, he called it a “win-win” that keeps infor­ma­tion about large chem­i­cal inven­to­ries off the web­site of the Depart­ment of State Health Ser­vices but doesn’t for­bid home­own­ers from ask­ing com­pa­nies in their neigh­bor­hoods what they store.

    He said com­pa­nies should respond with­in 10 days, but it’s not clear what penal­ties, if any, pri­vate com­pa­nies face if they decline to tell a mem­ber of the pub­lic what chem­i­cals are on site.


    An attor­ney general’s opin­ion car­ries the weight of law unless mod­i­fied or over­turned by a court or law­mak­ers.

    Abbott cam­paign spokesman Matt Hirsch did not respond to requests for com­ment about the Koch dona­tions.

    Chem­i­cal inter­ests

    As attor­ney gen­er­al, Abbott has issued sev­er­al opin­ions instruct­ing agen­cies, includ­ing the Depart­ment of State Health Ser­vices and the state envi­ron­men­tal qual­i­ty agency, to with­hold infor­ma­tion about facil­i­ties stor­ing so-called Tier II chem­i­cals.

    Chem­i­cal inter­ests have donat­ed thou­sands of dol­lars to Abbott’s polit­i­cal cam­paigns, accord­ing to state records. He has received more than $50,000 from polit­i­cal com­mit­tees for Chevron, Dow Chem­i­cal, Lyon­dell and DuPont and thou­sands more from chem­i­cal com­pa­ny exec­u­tives. Abbott has raised a total of tens of mil­lions of dol­lars for sev­er­al statewide cam­paigns.

    As for Koch, much of its mon­ey to Abbott came with­in a few weeks last year. The com­pa­ny did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    Chase Koch donat­ed $25,000 in Sep­tem­ber, short­ly after his father, Koch board chair­man Charles Koch, also gave $25,000. The Koch Indus­tries polit­i­cal com­mit­tee sent Abbott $25,000 in Novem­ber.

    In addi­tion, the com­pa­ny flew Abbott on a com­pa­ny jet in August to an invi­ta­tion-only gath­er­ing in New Mex­i­co that offered wealthy donors an oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet and min­gle with GOP elect­ed offi­cials and lead­ers of con­ser­v­a­tive groups sup­port­ing the Koch agen­da of less gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion and dis­clo­sure.

    In the Texas Leg­is­la­ture, Koch lob­by­ists are on record advo­cat­ing repeal of noti­fi­ca­tion require­ments regard­ing com­pa­ny pipeline con­struc­tion and dis­con­tin­u­ing the Texas Com­mis­sion on Envi­ron­men­tal Quality’s com­pli­ance his­to­ry pro­gram.

    “In addi­tion, the com­pa­ny flew Abbott on a com­pa­ny jet in August to an invi­ta­tion-only gath­er­ing in New Mex­i­co that offered wealthy donors an oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet and min­gle with GOP elect­ed offi­cials and lead­ers of con­ser­v­a­tive groups sup­port­ing the Koch agen­da of less gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion and dis­clo­sure.” Where indeed...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 7, 2014, 6:47 pm
  35. What kind of gift to you give to some­one that already has every­thing? No, not a hand­made gift. That’s just lame. Also, the recip­i­ent of your gift views you with con­tempt so, real­ly, they aren’t real­ly inter­est­ed in any­thing you can pro­vide. Well, there is one thing...fawn­ing obe­di­ence:

    The New York­er
    Moan­ing Moguls
    by James Surowiec­ki July 7, 2014

    The past few years have been very good to Stephen Schwarz­man, the chair­man and C.E.O. of the Black­stone Group, the giant pri­vate-equi­ty firm. His indus­try, which relies on bor­rowed mon­ey, has ben­e­fit­ted from low inter­est rates, and the stock-mar­ket boom has giv­en his firm great oppor­tu­ni­ties to cash out invest­ments. Schwarz­man is now worth more than ten bil­lion dol­lars. You wouldn’t think he’d have much to com­plain about. But, to hear him tell it, he’s beset by a med­dle­some, tax-hap­py gov­ern­ment and a whiny, envi­ous pop­u­lace. He recent­ly grum­bled that the U.S. mid­dle class has tak­en to “blam­ing wealthy peo­ple” for its prob­lems. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he has said that it might be good to raise income tax­es on the poor so they had “skin in the game,” and that pro­pos­als to repeal the car­ried-inter­est tax loophole—from which he per­son­al­ly benefits—were akin to the Ger­man inva­sion of Poland.

    Schwarz­man isn’t alone. In the past year, the ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Tom Perkins and Ken­neth Lan­gone, the co-founder of Home Depot, both com­pared pop­ulist attacks on the wealthy to the Nazis’ attacks on the Jews. All three even­tu­al­ly apol­o­gized, but the basic sen­ti­ment is sur­pris­ing­ly com­mon. Although the Oba­ma years have been boom times for America’s super-rich—recent work by the econ­o­mists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piket­ty showed that nine­ty-five per cent of income gains in the first three years of the recov­ery went to the top one per cent—a lot of them believe that they’re a per­se­cut­ed minor­i­ty. As Mark Mizruchi, a soci­ol­o­gist at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan and the author of a book called “The Frac­tur­ing of the Amer­i­can Cor­po­rate Elite,” told me, “These guys think, We’re the job cre­ators, we keep the mar­kets run­ning, and yet the pub­lic doesn’t like us. How can that be?” Busi­ness lead­ers were upset at the crit­i­cism that fol­lowed the finan­cial cri­sis and, for many of them, it’s an arti­cle of faith that peo­ple suc­ceed or fail because that’s what they deserve. Schwarz­man recent­ly said that Amer­i­cans “always like to blame some­body oth­er than them­selves for a fail­ure.” If you believe that net worth is a reflec­tion of mer­it, then any attempt to curb inequal­i­ty looks unfair.

    That’s not how it’s always been. A cen­tu­ry ago, indus­tri­al mag­nates played a cen­tral role in the Pro­gres­sive move­ment, work­ing with unions, sup­port­ing workmen’s com­pen­sa­tion laws and laws against child labor, and often push­ing for more gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion. This wasn’t altru­ism; as a clas­sic analy­sis by the his­to­ri­an James Wein­stein showed, the reforms were intend­ed to co-opt pub­lic pres­sure and avert more rad­i­cal mea­sures. Still, they mate­ri­al­ly improved the lives of ordi­nary work­ers. And they sprang from a prag­mat­ic belief that the robust­ness of cap­i­tal­ism as a whole depend­ed on wide dis­tri­b­u­tion of the fruits of the sys­tem.


    That all changed begin­ning in the sev­en­ties, when the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty, wrestling with shrink­ing prof­its and tougher for­eign com­pe­ti­tion, lurched to the right. Today, there are no cen­trist busi­ness orga­ni­za­tions with any real polit­i­cal clout, and the only busi­ness lob­bies that mat­ter in Wash­ing­ton are those push­ing an agen­da of low­er tax­es and less reg­u­la­tion. Cor­po­rate prof­its and C.E.O. salaries have in recent years reached record lev­els, but there’s no sign of a return to the cor­po­rate states­man­ship of the past (the occa­sion­al out­lier like War­ren Buf­fett notwith­stand­ing). And that’s one big rea­son that it’s become impos­si­ble for Wash­ing­ton to get things done, even on issues of bipar­ti­san inter­est.

    If today’s cor­po­rate kvetch­ers are more con­cerned with the state of their egos than with the state of the nation, it’s in part because their own for­tunes aren’t tied to those of the nation the way they once were. In the post­war years, Amer­i­can com­pa­nies depend­ed large­ly on Amer­i­can con­sumers. Glob­al­iza­tion has changed that—foreign sales account for almost half the rev­enue of the S&P 500—as has the rise of finan­cial ser­vices (where the most impor­tant clients are the wealthy and oth­er cor­po­ra­tions). The well-being of the Amer­i­can mid­dle class just doesn’t mat­ter as much to com­pa­nies’ bot­tom lines. And there’s anoth­er change. Ear­ly in the past cen­tu­ry, there was a true social­ist move­ment in the Unit­ed States, and in the post­war years the Sovi­et Union seemed to offer the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a mean­ing­ful alter­na­tive to cap­i­tal­ism. Small won­der that the tycoons of those days were so eager to chan­nel pop­ulist agi­ta­tion into reform. Today, by con­trast, cor­po­rate chief­tains have lit­tle to fear, oth­er than mild­ly high­er tax­es and the com­plaints of peo­ple who have read Thomas Piket­ty. Moguls com­plain about their feel­ings because that’s all any­one can real­ly threat­en.

    “Moguls com­plain about their feel­ings because that’s all any­one can real­ly threat­en.” Aint that the truth.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 8, 2014, 6:49 am
  36. Well, this has got to be just about the worst rea­son ever to avoid imple­ment­ing new renew­able ener­gy sources, but the arti­cle does make a valid point: Greater pow­er grid com­plex­i­ty might allow for a wider vari­ety of ener­gy sources, but when the ener­gy indus­try does­n’t take ade­quate pro­tec­tive steps to address vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that arise from that new com­plex­i­ty, the greater diver­si­ty of ener­gy sources will also come with a greater diver­si­ty of grid hacks:

    Hack­ers Find Open Back Door to Pow­er Grid With Renew­ables
    By Louise Down­ing and Jim Pol­son Jul 2, 2014 4:23 AM CT

    Mak­ing the elec­tric­i­ty grid green­er is boost­ing its vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to com­put­er hack­ing, increas­ing the risk that spies or crim­i­nals can cause black­outs.

    Adding wind farms, solar pan­els and smart meters to the pow­er dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tem opens addi­tion­al por­tals through which hack­ers can attack the grid, accord­ing to com­put­er secu­ri­ty experts advis­ing gov­ern­ments and util­i­ties. Where tra­di­tion­al­ly the grid took pow­er from a few sources, it’s now absorb­ing it from thou­sands.

    The com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works and soft­ware that link green ener­gy sources to the grid as well as the elec­tron­ic meters that send real time pow­er usage to con­sumers and util­i­ties are pro­vid­ing new back-door entry paths for com­put­er hack­ers to raise hav­oc with the grid. The dis­clo­sure this week that hack­ers known as “Drag­on­fly” and “Ener­getic Bear” gained access to pow­er net­works across the U.S. and Europe in the past 15 months is a reminder of how vul­ner­a­ble the sys­tem has become.

    “Attacks against the grid have moved from the­o­ry to real­i­ty,” said Raj Samani, chief tech­nol­o­gy offi­cer for Europe, Mid­dle East and Africa, at McAfee Inc., a unit of Intel Corp. (INTC) that’s one of the biggest secu­ri­ty soft­ware providers.

    Util­i­ties, already grap­pling with oth­er chal­lenges to the grid, may spend what may run into the bil­lions of dol­lars for com­put­er secu­ri­ty. A new mul­ti­tude of ener­gy inputs is forc­ing grid man­agers to run sys­tems that com­mu­ni­cate real-time data on pow­er flows to con­sumers and pow­er plants, bring­ing net­works that were pre­vi­ous­ly close­ly con­trolled into con­tact with com­put­er and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems used by mil­lions.


    Smart Meters

    Already, the ener­gy indus­try was the sixth-most tar­get­ed sec­tor world­wide last year. It was the top tar­get in the U.S., account­ing for 59 per­cent of the 256 attacks record­ed last year by the U.S. Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty. Almost all the specifics of the inci­dents are kept qui­et to pre­vent dam­age to the com­pa­nies vic­tim­ized.

    In the past, all pow­er use was mea­sured by mechan­i­cal meters, which required a util­i­ty work­er to inspect and read them. Now, util­i­ties are turn­ing to smart meters that com­mu­ni­cate data on flows minute by minute both to cus­tomers and util­i­ties. In Britain, the gov­ern­ment wants most homes to have smart meters by 2020, open­ing mil­lions of new access points for attack­ers. Sim­i­lar pro­grams are in place across the U.S. and Europe.

    “Any­time you intro­duce more soft­ware, you intro­duce more com­plex­i­ty and inevitably more poten­tial holes to the sys­tem,” said Gavin O’Gorman, a threat intel­li­gence ana­lyst at Syman­tec Corp. (SYMC), the secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny based in Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia, that iden­ti­fied the “Drag­on­fly” threat.


    In the “Drag­on­fly” inci­dent, hack­ers thought to be in East­ern Europe start­ed tar­get­ing pow­er com­pa­nies with spam in Feb­ru­ary 2013 and gained access to net­works at three com­pa­nies a few months lat­er. Syman­tec didn’t name the com­pa­nies. It said most of the inci­dents were in Spain, the U.S., France and Italy.

    Renew­able ener­gy com­pa­nies were tar­get­ed. The “Drag­on­fly” hack­ers used a French web­site of a clean pow­er provider as a “water­ing hole,” where vic­tims from the tar­get­ed com­pa­ny vis­it and pick up infect­ed code, Syman­tec said.

    They were able to com­pro­mise indus­tri­al con­trol sys­tems and install mal­ware that can repli­cate itself and spread to oth­er com­put­ers.

    “Drag­on­fly” was the lat­est in a series of breach­es affect­ing ener­gy com­pa­nies. In June, the U.S. traced dozens of sur­veil­lance sor­ties in 2012 and 2013 on gas pipelines and elec­tric util­i­ties to the People’s Lib­er­a­tion Army in Chi­na.


    As the arti­cle points out, the threats of com­pro­mised indus­tri­al con­trol sys­tems (e.g. Stuxnet) and dis­rupt­ed pow­er grids aren’t going to fade away as tech­nol­o­gy advances. They might even get worse. While this may not actu­al­ly be a valid rea­son to avoid the intro­duc­tion of renew­able ener­gy tech­nolo­gies (by that log­ic, no new tech­nol­o­gy that expands com­plex­i­ty and risk should be imple­ment­ed), it’s still a les­son worth keep­ing in mind that new risks are indeed emerg­ing if we tran­si­tion to a smart grid soci­ety. Because it’s not just your local pow­er grid that’s poised for greater tech­ni­cal com­plex­i­ty and risks asso­ci­at­ed with green ener­gy and smart grid tech­nol­o­gy. Think clos­er to home:

    Pan­do Dai­ly
    Time Mag­a­zine shows just how creepy smart homes real­ly are

    By James Robin­son
    On July 7, 2014

    Over the hol­i­day week­end, I sat down with Time’s spe­cial on “The Smarter Home.”

    A few things hit me straight up. It always feels goofi­er than it should when pop­ulist mag­a­zines take on emerg­ing tech. Also, we need to stop the ram­pant deifi­ca­tion of Tony Fadell. (“‘At Apple, we changed soci­ety,’ Fadell says, some­what con­tem­pla­tive­ly. Now he’s try­ing again.”)

    But above every­thing, I felt creeped out. “The dwellings of the future will make you calmer, safer, rich­er and health­i­er,” Time’s cov­er assured me, sooth­ing­ly. But tak­ing my head out of the tech press and read­ing such a broad, con­sumer lev­el cov­er-all of the smarter home, I was nagged by the thought that a mod­ern sur­veil­lance state isn’t so much being forced on us, as it is sold to us device by device, with the idea that it is for our ben­e­fit.

    Cast aside any notion of con­sumer con­ve­nience (turn off the part of your brain that looks at shiny things and thinks “hey! cool…”) and think only of what the infor­ma­tion that these smart toys gath­er says about you. All of the com­pa­nies involved, if con­tact­ed, would prob­a­bly say some­thing noble about pro­tect­ing your data while offer­ing up a great ser­vice. But we know how this plays out. Think Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” max­im ver­sus how it has actu­al­ly treat­ed your search, maps and email data.

    Nest sucks up data on how warm your home is. As Mocana CEO James Isaacs explained to me in ear­ly May, a detailed foot­print of your com­ings and goings can be inferred from this infor­ma­tion. Nest just bought Drop­cam, a com­pa­ny that mar­kets itself as a secu­ri­ty tool allow­ing you to put cam­eras in your home and view them remote­ly, but brings with it a raft of dis­qui­et­ing impli­ca­tions about sur­veil­lance. Auto­mat­ic wants you to mon­i­tor how far you dri­ve and do things for you like talk to your your house when you’re on your way home from work and turn on lights when you pull into your garage. Tied into the new Smart­Things plat­form, a Jaw­bone UP band becomes a tool for remote­ly mon­i­tor­ing some­one else’s activ­i­ty. The Smart­Things hubs and sen­sors them­selves put any switch or door in play. Com­pa­nies like AT&T want to build a dig­i­tal home that mon­i­tors your secu­ri­ty and ener­gy use.

    Time’s fea­ture whirred over a lot of new tech­nol­o­gy. With­ings Smart Body Ana­lyz­er mon­i­tors your weight and pulse. Ted­dy the Guardian is a soft toy for chil­dren that spies on their vital signs. Par­rot Flower Pow­er looks at the mois­ture in your home under the guise of help­ing you grow plants. The Beam Brush checks up on your teeth-brush­ing tech­nique. The ToTo Wash­let is a smart toi­let. The Droplet Sprin­kler helps you save water. The Raven­win­dow looks at how much light is com­ing into your home. The Water Peb­ble goes in the show­er and glows red if you’re tak­ing longer than usu­al.

    Get­ting con­nect­ed device mak­ers to pon­tif­i­cate on what is com­ing next, what is thrown out gets more per­son­al and if you hold up the same line of sus­pi­cion to it all, sig­nif­i­cant­ly more hor­ri­fy­ing: a micro-wear­able that ana­lyzes diet through sweat, a wear­able ther­mo­stat that ana­lyzes why you’re hot or cold.


    I can’t cred­it Time for earth shat­ter­ing insight. But inad­ver­tent­ly, it pulled off some­thing that I hadn’t seen done well before: it put the pieces of the smart home sto­ry togeth­er in such a com­plete and excitable way

    Calmer, safer, rich­er and health­i­er? Try, quan­ti­fied, cod­dled, sur­veilled, and mon­e­tized.

    Yes, the “inter­net of things” is com­ing, it’s poten­tial­ly hack­able, and it’s going to con­sist of your things. Your ‘smart’ things in your home and also the home itself. It’s a reminder that the added risks asso­ci­at­ed with sane actions like hook­ing up renew­able ener­gy to the elec­tri­cal grid pale in com­par­i­son to the added com­plex­i­ty and risks asso­ci­at­ed with wiring up all the util­i­ties and ran­dom items in our homes in a giant obser­va­tion­al net­work. The risks asso­ci­at­ed with the renew­able ener­gy sec­tor can be wild­ly over­stat­ed.

    And the larg­er top­ic of renew­able ener­gy-asso­ci­at­ed smart grid tech­nol­o­gy cre­at­ing new risks in the ener­gy sec­tor sec­tor that infects the whole grid should also be a reminder that the biggest risks asso­ci­at­ed with renew­able ener­gy tech­nol­o­gy dis­rupt­ing the ener­gy grid don’t actu­al­ly come from the renew­able ener­gy tech­nol­o­gy. Imag­ine that.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 9, 2014, 8:50 pm
  37. Here’s a peak at the future of the US far right, or at least the future the far right would like to see: Cyber-Koch Heads:

    The Kochs’ non­prof­it empire is build­ing a net­work of lib­er­tar­i­an hack­ers, coders and design­ers
    Gen­er­a­tion Oppor­tu­ni­ty teams up with Lin­coln Labs to host hackathons across the coun­try
    Chris Moody, Yahoo News
    By Chris Moody, Yahoo News July 23, 2014 8:57 AM

    SAN FRANCISCO — It was near­ing 2 a.m., the AC had been shut off and the air in the cen­tu­ry-old down­town office of Brigade Media, a tech start­up that host­ed a hackathon in con­junc­tion with a lib­er­tar­i­an tech con­fer­ence here, was start­ing to feel heavy. A small group of unwashed, sleep-deprived coders toiled qui­et­ly over their com­put­ers while a young man in a cor­ner was passed out on a bean­bag chair with a lap­top bal­anc­ing on his chest.

    The hackathon — an event in which teams com­pete to build new apps and pro­grams with­in a short peri­od of time — was part of the first inau­gur­al Reboot con­fer­ence where hun­dreds of con­ser­v­a­tive hack­ers, coders, design­ers, tech entre­pre­neurs and con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal activists joined some of the nation’s top Repub­li­cans to strate­gize and — ide­al­ly — emerge with The Next Great App. As an incen­tive, the con­fer­ence orga­niz­ers offered $10,000 in prize mon­ey to be award­ed to the best ideas.

    The gath­er­ing was the first inau­gur­al con­fer­ence put on by Lin­coln Labs, a year-old club of polit­i­cal­ly-mind­ed tech­nol­o­gists start­ed by three mil­len­ni­als with back­grounds in Repub­li­can pol­i­tics: Gar­rett John­son, a for­mer aide to Flori­da Gov. Jeb Bush; Aaron Ginn, who worked on Mitt Romney’s dig­i­tal team; and Chris Abrams, who runs dig­i­tal oper­a­tions for Van­i­ty Fair mag­a­zine. The group — which adopts the label “con­ser­vatar­i­an,” a pop­u­lar buzz­word for the ide­o­log­i­cal coali­tion between con­ser­v­a­tives and lib­er­tar­i­ans — was born in 2013 in the after­math of the failed Repub­li­can attempt to regain con­trol of the White House, in which Pres­i­dent Obama’s mas­tery of dig­i­tal cam­paign­ing and data col­lec­tion trounced Repub­li­can efforts to match it.

    Over the past year, Lin­coln Labs has grown to rep­re­sent the epi­cen­ter of the right-wing tech scene as it strug­gles to make a dent in an indus­try tra­di­tion­al­ly dom­i­nat­ed by the polit­i­cal left.

    For most of Lin­coln Lab’s exis­tence, the group has relied upon finan­cial back­ing and sup­port from the orbit of activist groups that are part of Charles and David Koch’s donor net­work. Last weekend’s con­fer­ence was spon­sored by an array of groups from the Koch net­work: Gen­er­a­tion Oppor­tu­ni­ty, its youth out­reach group; the Libre Ini­tia­tive, its His­pan­ic orga­ni­za­tion; Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty, its lead polit­i­cal advo­ca­cy arm; and i360, which col­lects data on behalf of the Koch net­work. Microsoft, Google, and Stam­pede, a polit­i­cal con­sult­ing firm that pro­vides cam­paign ser­vices to con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­dates, also served as spon­sors for the event.

    With Gen­er­a­tion Oppor­tu­ni­ty doing most of the finan­cial leg­work, the Koch net­work has invest­ed in Lin­coln Labs hackathons around the coun­try, hold­ing sim­i­lar, yet small­er, gath­er­ings in Cal­i­for­nia, Seat­tle, Chica­go and Mia­mi.


    That’s enough of an open­ing for enter­pris­ing Repub­li­can law­mak­ers, who are begin­ning to notice that there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to final­ly make inroads here. For exam­ple, they see how state and local union-backed taxi com­mis­sionstry to choke ride-shar­ing apps such as Uber and how spe­cial inter­ests that rep­re­sent the hos­pi­tal­i­ty indus­try work to under­mine busi­ness­es like Airbnb, which con­nects pri­vate home­own­ers with poten­tial renters. At the con­fer­ence, Wash­ing­ton Rep. Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers and Ken­tucky Sen. Rand Paul deliv­ered speech­es and joined pan­el dis­cus­sions, while Jeb Bush and Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walk­er piped in their own com­ments through video pre­sen­ta­tions. The Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee and the Nation­al Repub­li­can Sen­a­to­r­i­al Com­mit­tee flew in their top tech brass from Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

    For Paul, a pos­si­ble future Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, the trip to North­ern Cal­i­for­nia was an oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet with tech entre­pre­neurs from both sides of the aisle, a group Paul hopes shares his antag­o­nism for unbri­dled gov­ern­ment spy­ing and ques­tion­able data col­lect­ing prac­tices.

    “I come out here and peo­ple say, ‘Oh, I love Pres­i­dent Oba­ma. We’re all for Pres­i­dent Oba­ma, we’re from the tech com­mu­ni­ty.’ Why?” Paul asked in his address at the con­fer­ence. “Why would you be? He’s not for inno­va­tion. He’s not for free­dom. He’s for the pro­tec­tion­ism crowd.”

    But votes and cam­paign dona­tions for Repub­li­cans are only part of what the right seeks from Sil­i­con Val­ley. Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers, after all, haven’t helped elect a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date since George H. W. Bush took the baton from Ronald Rea­gan more than a quar­ter-cen­tu­ry ago.

    The right also wants its tal­ent.

    This is where Lin­coln Labs — with an assist from the Koch net­work — comes in.

    Many of the hack­ers, pro­gram­mers and design­ers who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Lin­coln Labs hackathon aren’t Repub­li­cans, or even con­ser­v­a­tives. But by hold­ing the events with the promise of cash prizes, Lin­coln Labs has found a way to con­nect issues raised by D.C. polit­i­cal oper­a­tives who don’t know the first thing about cod­ing with solu­tions from tech­nol­o­gists eager to solve prob­lems (and maybe earn a bit of cash on the side).


    Beyond pro­vid­ing the space and finan­cial incen­tive to cre­ate new apps, the con­fer­ence also aimed to con­nect those tech­nol­o­gists with oper­a­tives inter­est­ed in using their cre­ations for their cause.

    “This bridges that gap of, how do peo­ple like us in the polit­i­cal world get involved with indi­vid­u­als like that who are apo­lit­i­cal?” said Adam Stryk­er, the ?chief tech­nol­o­gy offi­cer at Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty. “Evi­dent­ly 10,000 bucks at a hackathon is one way to get peo­ple involved. Free mar­ket approach­es.”

    To sup­ple­ment the occa­sion­al brick-and-mor­tar hackathon gath­er­ing Gen­er­a­tion Oppor­tu­ni­ty has built an online hub for lib­er­tar­i­an tech­nol­o­gists to con­nect year-round with politi­cos and entre­pre­neurs. The group has built a por­tal called Liberty.IO as an online space where activists can sub­mit prob­lems they would like to solve or ideas for bet­ter apps and con­nect with design­ers and devel­op­ers who know how to build them.

    The upside for the Koch-backed groups? By serv­ing as the home for the lib­er­tar­i­an tech com­mu­ni­ty, they get first crack at top tech tal­ent that’s poten­tial­ly sym­pa­thet­ic to the “con­ser­vatar­i­an” cause — and help with every­thing from smarter data col­lec­tion to bet­ter cam­paign prac­tices.

    And of course, there’s the added ben­e­fit of fund­ing projects that they see as help­ing put a mil­lion lit­tle tears into the fab­ric of the state. As many of the activists here see it, the tech rev­o­lu­tion is one of their most effec­tive ways to make the ser­vices pro­vid­ed by the gov­ern­ment less rel­e­vant.

    “Whether the gov­ern­ment likes it or not, there’s going to be a rev­o­lu­tion,” Paul said dur­ing his talk. “One of the things that intrigues me about progress and all the stuff that comes from the Inter­net in this dig­i­tal age is whether or not some­thing is going to replace the gov­ern­ment.”

    Paul added some part­ing advice to the group: “Don’t be depressed about how bad gov­ern­ment is. Use your inge­nu­ity, use your big head to think of solu­tions so the mar­ket­place can fig­ure what the idiots and trolls in Wash­ing­ton will nev­er come up with.”

    And here’s a piece by Mark Ames that takes a clos­er look at the typ­i­cal­ly ter­ri­fy­ing pol­i­tics on dis­play at “Reboot” and strange his­to­ry of lib­er­tar­i­an­ism, Sil­i­con Val­ley, Rea­son mag­a­zine, the Koch broth­ers that shows why the “Reboot” con­fer­ence was a very log­i­cal choice for show­cas­ing a very irra­tional move­ment:

    Pan­do Dai­ly
    Homo­pho­bia, racism and the Kochs: San Francisco’s tech-lib­er­tar­i­an “Reboot” con­fer­ence is a cesspool

    By Mark Ames
    On July 18, 2014

    Start­ing today, San Fran­cis­co plays host to the Reboot 2014 con­fer­ence. Accord­ing to the event’s blurb:

    Reboot 2014 will bring togeth­er tech­ni­cal tal­ent and pol­i­cy advo­cates to turn ideas into deliv­er­ables for lib­er­ty.

    The word “lib­er­ty” is the give­away, of course. With “Reboot,” lib­er­tar­i­an­ism is mak­ing its Big Pitch to Sil­i­con Val­ley. The event fea­tures the movement’s super­star scion, Rand Paul, as keynote speak­er; along­side Nick Gille­spie, the leather-jack­et­ed edi­tor of Reason.com, the online edi­tion of Rea­son mag­a­zine, the longest-run­ning and most suc­cess­ful lib­er­tar­i­an media out­let, backed by the infa­mous Koch Broth­ers. In fact, the entire event is spon­sored by the Kochs.

    Under the weird ban­ner of “con­ser­vatar­i­an­ism,” oth­er key speak­ers include promi­nent repub­li­cans like Rep. Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers, chair of the House Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence, and Andy Bar­kett, CTO of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee.


    Sil­i­con Val­ley and lib­er­tar­i­an­ism would seem to be a nat­ur­al fit, giv­en Ayn Rand’s reput­ed pop­u­lar­i­ty in the tech world—at least, accord­ing to the car­i­ca­ture. At the bil­lion­aire lev­el, a num­ber of Big Tech super­stars iden­ti­fy them­selves as “lib­er­tar­i­an”: Pierre Omid­yar, Peter Thiel, Travis Kalan­ick to name a few. And Rea­son mag­a­zine, based in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia since 1970, would seem to be the per­fect match­mak­er between the Bible Belt lib­er­tar­i­an­ism of Rand Paul and Charles Koch, and Sil­i­con Valley’s “Cal­i­for­nia lib­er­tar­i­an­ism.” After all, it was Rea­son that inspired Wired magazine’s lib­er­tar­i­an founder, Louis Ros­set­to, when he was a Colum­bia U stu­dent in the ear­ly 1970s.

    Late­ly, Rand Paul, the super­star of the lib­er­tar­i­an world, has been hard-sell­ing him­self to Sil­i­con Val­ley bil­lion­aires. In May, Sen. Paul did a bil­lion­aires’ crawl in the Bay Area, gloat­ing about “unlim­it­ed poten­tial for us in Sil­i­con Val­ley.” And last week­end, Rand Paul wormed his way into the annu­al Sun Val­ley oli­garchs’ retreat for some qual­i­ty one-on-one face time with Face­book bil­lion­aires Mark Zucker­berg, Sean Park­er, and Peter Thiel (who bankrolled Rand’s dad­dy Ron Paul’s 2012 run for pres­i­dent).

    [Dis­clo­sure: Peter Thiel is an investor in Pan­do, via Founders Fund]

    So now we have the “Reboot Lab” con­fer­ence tak­ing place in the heart of San Francisco’s SOMA tech dis­trict. But if the pur­pose of the Reboot Lab con­fer­ence is to merge Koch-brand lib­er­tar­i­an­ism with Sil­i­con Val­ley “lib­er­tar­i­an­ism,” then the first thing you have to ask is: Why the Hell did they invite a mean homo­pho­bic hick like Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers to the show?

    Rand Paul at least does a decent job show­boat­ing out­rage against Big Broth­er snoop­ing and drone attacks; at least there’s some­thing there to grab onto before you get into the rest of Rand’s loonie-right pol­i­tics. But the oth­er keynote speak­er, McMor­ris Rodgers?

    In the, I sup­pose, quite like­ly event that Sil­i­con Val­ley doesn’t know who she is, here’s a quick primer:

    Rep. McMor­ris Rodgers was home­schooled by her father, and got her high­er edu­ca­tion degree at an unac­cred­it­ed Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ist insti­tu­tion,Pen­saco­la Chris­t­ian Col­lege (PCC), which bans homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, open Inter­net (PCC until recent­ly banned all Inter­net access), and mixed-gen­der stair­wells (male and female stu­dents are required to use sep­a­rate stairs and doors). Pen­saco­la Chris­t­ian Col­lege is the pub­lish­er of A Beka text­books for K‑12 pupils, which teach kids that Islam is a “false reli­gion,” Hin­dus are “inca­pable of writ­ing his­to­ry,” Catholi­cism is “a mon­strous dis­tor­tion of Chris­tian­i­ty,” African reli­gions preach “false reli­gious beliefs,” lib­er­als and Democ­rats are cryp­to-Marx­ists, and the Unit­ed Nations is a “col­lec­tivist jug­ger­naut that would crush indi­vid­ual free­dom and force the will of an elite few on all of human­i­ty.”

    In the mid-late 90s, McMor­ris Rodgers took office in the Wash­ing­ton state leg­is­la­ture and co-authored a bill ban­ning same-sex mar­riages, then lat­er earned noto­ri­ety for block­ing a bill that had already passed unan­i­mous­ly in Wash­ing­ton state’s upper house to replace the pejo­ra­tive “Ori­en­tals” with “Asians” in offi­cial state doc­u­ments. As report­ed in the press at the time, leg­is­la­tors were dumb­found­ed as to why McMor­ris Rodgers would do some­thing as gra­tu­itous­ly mean-spir­it­ed as block­ing a bill undo­ing racism against Asians; a few, includ­ing the bill’s Kore­an-Amer­i­can author, lit­er­al­ly broke down in tears. McMor­ris Rodgers’ excuse, as report­ed in the Seat­tle Post-Intel­li­gencer:

    “I’m very reluc­tant to con­tin­ue to focus on set­ting up dif­fer­ent def­i­n­i­tions in statute relat­ed to the var­i­ous minor­i­ty groups. I’d real­ly like to see us get beyond that.”

    Since com­ing to Con­gress, she co-spon­sored a Con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment ban­ning gay mar­riage, vot­ed against bills that would pro­tect the LGBT com­mu­ni­ty from hate crimes and dis­crim­i­na­tion in the work­place, against the equal pay bill for women, against fed­er­al fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood, and she oppos­es legal abor­tions in the case of rape or incest (unless the mother’s life is in dan­ger). The Pen­saco­la Chris­t­ian Col­lege grad did, how­ev­er, co-author a bill “rec­og­niz­ing Christianity’s impor­tance to West­ern civ­i­liza­tion.”

    And this week­end she’ll be keynot­ing at Reboot, shar­ing the stage with LeanIn.org’s Andrea Saul, whom Sheryl Sand­berg hired last year to “help reach women – and men – so that we can all work togeth­er towards a more equal world.”


    At first glance it makes no sense to front a rabid­ly anti-gay can­di­date like McMor­ris Rodgers to sell the Kochs’ and the Paul family’s scrub­land lib­er­tar­i­an­ism to a Bay Area audi­ence full of hip dis­rup­tors and “anar­chist” prac­ti­tion­ers of bohemia groom­ing fads.

    But that’s because what Sil­i­con Val­ley folks think of when they hear the word “lib­er­tar­i­an­ism” actu­al­ly has very lit­tle con­nec­tion to what the lib­er­tar­i­an move­ment actu­al­ly stands for, and has stood for since the 1970s.

    To under­stand what lib­er­tar­i­an­ism real­ly means to some of the peo­ple on stage at the Reboot con­fer­ence, you need to look back at the archives of Rea­son mag­a­zine — the de fac­to house mag­a­zine of Amer­i­can lib­er­tar­i­an­ism. A mag­a­zine whose online edi­tor, don’t for­get, will also be on the Reboot stage.

    For the past few months, I’ve been sift­ing back through Reason’s archives to try to under­stand the dark ori­gins of all this flashy lib­er­tar­i­an pat­ter that’s being repack­aged and sold to today’s Sil­i­con Val­ley entre­pre­neurs as “bold” and “new” think­ing.


    The rest of Mark Ames’s piece goes into that inter­twined his­to­ry of lib­er­tar­i­an­ism, Rea­son mag­a­zine, Sil­i­con Val­ley, and the Koch broth­ers. It’s def­i­nite­ly worth a read. Espe­cial­ly the parts about Rea­son mag­a­zine’s cham­pi­oning of South Africa as a lib­er­tar­i­an par­adise. And don’t miss the fol­low up piece on the 1976 “spe­cial issue” (yikes!).

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 24, 2014, 8:43 pm
  38. Here’s an arti­cle that high­lights a key aspect of the con­cerns over the Koch-dom­i­nat­ed Cana­di­an tar sands flow­ing through the Key­stone XL pipeline and the dan­gers posed to major US ground water sources from an oil spill: Tar sands oil has so many chem­i­cals added to it that it sinks in water:

    Los Ange­les Times
    Maine town fights plan to use pipeline to export oil sands crude
    By Neela Baner­jee

    July 21, 2014, 5:00 AM

    Tom Blake, like thou­sands of his neigh­bors in this coastal town, is used to liv­ing along­side the oil indus­try. Tank farms clus­ter in neigh­bor­hoods, by the park where fam­i­lies watch the movie “Frozen” on a sum­mer night, next to schools and senior cit­i­zens apart­ment build­ings. As a child, Blake, the town’s for­mer may­or, used to jump into high snow drifts from the mas­sive oil tank next door.

    Now, after decades as a New Eng­land hub for import­ing crude oil and dis­trib­ut­ing fuel, South Port­land is enmeshed in a dis­pute with the oil indus­try that echoes far beyond south­ern Maine.

    On Mon­day night, the South Port­land City Coun­cil, includ­ing Blake, is expect­ed to pass an ordi­nance that would pre­vent the export of crude oil from the water­front. The prod­uct of a relent­less 18-month cam­paign by res­i­dents and Maine envi­ron­men­tal groups, the mea­sure is a response to plans by Port­land-Mon­tre­al Pipe Line, or PMPL, to reverse the flow of its import pipeline in order to export oil sands crude from Cana­da, the same petro­le­um that would run through the con­tro­ver­sial Key­stone XL pipeline in the Great Plains.

    “This isn’t an anti-Port­land pipeline com­pa­ny mea­sure,” Blake said. “It’s anti-dirty oil.”

    The fight over grant­i­ng Key­stone XL a fed­er­al per­mit and the ques­tions it raised about the oil’s envi­ron­men­tal impact has fed the oppo­si­tion here. But South Port­land itself is now the lat­est front in the bat­tle over devel­op­ing Alber­ta’s vast oil sands deposits. The Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment is push­ing to build mul­ti­ple export routes. Towns and envi­ron­men­tal­ists along the pro­posed routes want to seal them off.

    The South Port­land ordi­nance, if passed, would be “very sig­nif­i­cant” to efforts to thwart oil sands crude exports, said Danielle Droitsch, Cana­da Project direc­tor for the Nat­ur­al Resources Defense Coun­cil.

    That has not been lost on the oil sec­tor, from the region­al play­ers in South Port­land to the Amer­i­can Petro­le­um Insti­tute, the indus­try’s top lob­by, which sent a let­ter to town offi­cials say­ing the law “would face strong legal chal­lenges.” No com­pa­ny in South Port­land cur­rent­ly exports crude oil, but some say the ordi­nance sig­nals a will­ing­ness to restrict all busi­ness­es unfair­ly.

    “A very vocal minor­i­ty ini­ti­at­ed a groundswell of con­cern in the com­mu­ni­ty, and the City Coun­cil adopt­ed this ordi­nance with­out address­ing, through inde­pen­dent study, the issues that were ini­tial­ly brought up about pub­lic health and safe­ty,” said Tay­lor Hud­son, head of investor rela­tions for Sprague Ener­gy, a New Eng­land ener­gy whole­saler. “There was such a rush to judg­ment with­out input from state, fed­er­al or local reg­u­la­tors. We see it as a very dan­ger­ous prece­dent for any busi­ness that wants to inno­vate.”

    PMPL got local and state per­mits with lit­tle notice five years ago to make infra­struc­ture changes to reverse the flow. But local res­i­dents homed in on the pro­posed change in late 2012 as oil sands crude became a big­ger issue with Key­stone XL. Com­mu­ni­ties along the pipeline route, from Ver­mont to Maine, also grew alarmed by spills of oil sands crude into Michi­gan’s Kala­ma­zoo Riv­er in 2010 and then in a sub­di­vi­sion in Mayflower, Ark., in 2013.

    “All of those things — Key­stone, Kala­ma­zoo — peo­ple woke up to them,” said Mary Jane Fer­ri­er, 82, a spokes­woman for Pro­tect South Port­land, the cit­i­zens group cham­pi­oning the ordi­nance. “When peo­ple con­sid­ered that it could hap­pen in their back­yard, they got very con­cerned.”

    The Port­land-Mon­tre­al pipeline six times cross­es the water­shed for a major trib­u­tary into Seba­go Lake, the drink­ing water source for the greater Port­land area. Oil sands crude is a tar­ry sub­stance called bitu­men extract­ed through strip min­ing and dilut­ed with chem­i­cals to reduce its vis­cos­i­ty. The bitu­men and dilu­ents con­tain car­cino­gens. While oil usu­al­ly floats when spilled into water, bitu­men sinks, mak­ing cleanup hard­er.

    “That’s tap water,” Bob Fos­ter said, pick­ing up a half-full plas­tic bot­tle from the pic­nic table after weed-whack­ing his back­yard one recent morn­ing.

    He and his wife, Judy, both in their 60s, back the ordi­nance. They live in a trim, white clap­board house with a pick­et fence and flag­pole out front, across the road from two huge sage-green tanks owned by PMPL. “All you need is one break, not even a huge break, and hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple are going to be drink­ing and bathing in bot­tled water.”

    PMPL did not answer mul­ti­ple emails and phone calls seek­ing com­ment about the export ordi­nance. In remarks to the Ver­mont Leg­is­la­ture last year report­ed by Ver­mont Pub­lic Radio, then-Chief Exec­u­tive Lar­ry Wil­son said: “It’s a heav­ier oil, poten­tial­ly, if we had this project. And we’ve pumped heavy oil, and we’re capa­ble of pump­ing it very safe­ly.”


    “We have a very pow­er­ful munic­i­pal tool in home rule that lets us stop projects that are adverse to the com­mu­ni­ty,” said Crys­tal Goodrich, 40, an occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pist and mem­ber of Pro­tect South Port­land. “I think every com­mu­ni­ty should have some­thing like it. It’s become so that cor­po­ra­tions can go to plan­ning board meet­ings and get every­thing they ask for. But we are the ones that have to live here.”

    “We have a very pow­er­ful munic­i­pal tool in home rule that lets us stop projects that are adverse to the community...I think every com­mu­ni­ty should have some­thing like it. It’s become so that cor­po­ra­tions can go to plan­ning board meet­ings and get every­thing they ask for. But we are the ones that have to live here.” Good luck with that!

    In oth­er news...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 29, 2014, 6:37 pm
  39. Lee Fang points us towards a lit­tle snap­shot of the New Cit­i­zens Unit­ed Nor­mal:


    Amer­i­can Chem­istry Coun­cil
    Out­side Spend­ing: Inde­pen­dent Expen­di­tures, Elec­tion­eer­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tion & Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Costs by Tar­get­ed Can­di­date as of Novem­ber 12, 2014:

    Grand Total: $2,382,066
    Total For Democ­rats: $0
    Total Against Democ­rats: $0
    Total For Repub­li­cans: $2,382,066
    Total Against Repub­li­cans: $0

    Can­di­date Par­ty State Office Total For Against Results Ads
    Ernst, Joni R IA Sen­ate $595,000 $595,000 $0 Win­ner
    Per­due, David R GA Sen­ate $539,963 $539,963 $0 Win­ner
    Rounds, Mike R SD Sen­ate $428,000 $428,000 $0 Win­ner
    Can­tor, Eric R VA House $308,731 $308,731 $0 Lost in pri­ma­ry
    Isak­son, John­ny R GA Sen­ate $179,987 $179,987 $0
    Pom­peo, Mike R KS House $165,200 $165,200 $0 Win­ner
    Roberts, Pat R KS Sen­ate $165,185 $165,185 $0 Win­ner

    Based on data released dai­ly by the FEC on Novem­ber 12, 2014.

    And here’s a look at some of the con­se­quences of the New Cit­i­zens Unit­ed Nor­mal Let’s just say that, based on the well-financed elec­toral suc­cess­es high­light­ed above, the poten­tial con­se­quences don’t just threat­en to blow up any sem­blance of fair­ness in the US elec­toral process. The con­se­quences of open­ing the dark mon­ey flood­gates will prob­a­bly include actu­al explo­sions too:

    Moth­er Jones
    Will the “Koch Broth­ers Bill” Make Indus­tri­al Acci­dents More Like­ly?
    Such acci­dents are all too com­mon in chem­i­cal coun­try. So why are con­gress­men fight­ing to keep the EPA from doing any­thing about it?

    —By Tim Mur­phy
    | Mon Apr. 22, 2013 5:00 AM EDT

    Last Wednes­day’s explo­sion at a West, Texas, fer­til­iz­er plant, which left at least 15 peo­ple dead and more than 100 injured, was made pos­si­ble by an ultra-lax state and fed­er­al over­sight cli­mate that make inspec­tions of such facil­i­ties all but a rub­ber-stamp process—when they even hap­pen. If the chem­i­cal lob­by and its allies in Con­gress get their way, a reg­u­la­to­ry process dis­missed by envi­ron­men­tal activists and labor unions as extreme­ly weak would be watered down even more.

    In Feb­ru­ary, 11 congressmen—10 Repub­li­cans and one Democrat—joined some two dozen indus­try groups, includ­ing the Fer­til­iz­er Insti­tute, the Amer­i­can Chem­istry Coun­cil, and the Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute of Ammo­nia Refrig­er­a­tion, to back the Gen­er­al Duty Clar­i­fi­ca­tion Act. The bill is designed to sap the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency of its pow­ers to reg­u­late safe­ty and secu­ri­ty at major chem­i­cal sites, as pre­scribed by the Clean Air Act.

    “We call that the Koch broth­ers bill,” Green­peace leg­isla­tive direc­tor Rick Hind says, because the bil­l’s spon­sor, GOP Rep. Mike Pom­peo, rep­re­sents the con­ser­v­a­tive megadonors’ home city of Wichi­ta, Kansas. (The spon­sor of the sis­ter leg­is­la­tion in the sen­ate, GOP Sen. Pat Roberts, rep­re­sents the Kochs’ home state of Kansas.) The broth­ers have huge invest­ments in fer­til­iz­er pro­duc­tion, and Hind thinks they’ll ulti­mate­ly get what they want, whether or not the bill becomes law. “It’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly intend­ed to achieve leg­isla­tive passage—it’s more about intim­i­da­tion of a belea­guered agency.”

    The fight over fer­til­iz­er and the Clean Air Act has its ori­gins in the pas­sage of the law back in 1990. Although the orig­i­nal bill includ­ed lan­guage that would have per­mit­ted the EPA to reg­u­late the emis­sions of ammo­nia and hydro­gen sulfide—both of which are impor­tant ingre­di­ents and fer­til­iz­er manufacturing—a fierce lob­by­ing push from the fer­til­iz­er indus­try result­ed in the com­pounds being strick­en from the for­mal list.

    But bat­tle inten­si­fied after 9/11, when Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s EPA direc­tor, Chris­tine Todd Whit­man, decid­ed to take on what was seen as a seri­ous secu­ri­ty threat. Whit­man, the mod­er­ate for­mer New Jer­sey Repub­li­can gov­er­nor, was work­ing with Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­ri­ty Tom Ridge on a plan to reg­u­late chem­i­cal plants, which were con­sid­ered unique­ly vul­ner­a­ble to ter­ror­ist attacks. Whit­man believed the law already empow­ered the agency do that, but she and Ridge sketched out leg­is­la­tion that would expand that author­i­ty and put aside any ambi­gu­i­ty.

    “They were all set to announce that pub­licly and the White House yanked it,” recalls Paul Orum, a chem­i­cal safe­ty con­sul­tant for the Blue Green Chem­i­cal Secu­ri­ty Coali­tion. Philip Per­ry, Dick Cheney’s son-in-law, and at the time the gen­er­al coun­sel for the White House Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get, told her his boss­es would nev­er let any such leg­is­la­tion pass. In her 2005 book, It’s My Par­ty Too, Whit­man places the blame square­ly at the feet of the Amer­i­can Chem­istry Coun­cil, which she chides for its “extrem­ism and closed-mind­ed­ness.”

    Whit­man was rebuffed. Her pow­ers were instead trans­ferred through a 2007 bud­get deal to DHS, which was (and is) con­sid­ered to be less con­cerned with things like envi­ron­men­tal impacts or work­place stan­dards. She resigned in 2003. Leg­is­la­tion designed to improve safe­ty at chem­i­cal plants was intro­duced in the Sen­ate in 2006, but blocked by Repub­li­cans.


    In the mean­time, advo­cates for greater over­sight of America’s great unreg­u­lat­ed fer­til­iz­er facil­i­ties hope that maybe, just maybe, the explo­sion in West will be enough of a wake-up call to get Con­gress and the EPA to final­ly act.

    “Most of these things are human error,” says Neil Car­man, clean air pro­gram direc­tor at the Sier­ra Club’s Austin chap­ter and a for­mer inves­ti­ga­tor at the Texas Com­mis­sion on Envi­ron­men­tal Qual­i­ty, which inspects plants like West. “These things don’t hap­pen all of a sud­den. Every acci­dent that I’ve looked at in indus­tri­al plants, it was like, ‘Hey, you’ve got a tick­ing time bomb there.’ ”

    And if the explo­sions don’t get you...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 13, 2014, 9:15 pm
  40. If the vic­tim­hood was, itself, capa­ble of being vic­tim­ized we can be pret­ty sure the Koch broth­ers would have done it by now since dis­cred­it­ing the very notion of vic­tim­hood appears to be once of their goals:

    Bloomberg Pol­i­tics
    Kochworld’s 2014 Les­son: It’s All About Vic­tim­hood

    The leader of a Koch-backed polit­i­cal group explains what tac­tics will show up in the 2016 play­book.

    by Julie Bykow­icz
    Nov 17, 2014 2:58 PM CST

    Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty, the advo­ca­cy group co-found­ed by bil­lion­aire ener­gy exec­u­tives Charles and David Koch, spent more than $100 mil­lion help­ing Repub­li­can can­di­dates in each of the last two elections–with marked­ly bet­ter results this year than in 2012. AFP Pres­i­dent Tim Phillips took a cof­fee break Mon­day in Arling­ton, Va., to explain what went right and the tac­tics that will be enhanced and expand­ed upon for the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. His top take­aways:

    Sob sto­ries

    Phillips said he admired his oppo­nents’ use of “real peo­ple” on TV to make the case that Repub­li­can poli­cies were caus­ing “out-of-con­trol cap­i­tal­ism.” We have vic­tims, too, he thought.

    So ear­li­er this year, AFP dropped its eco­nom­ic argu­ment against Oba­macare in favor of TV ads with a bit more human dra­ma, spot­light­ing peo­ple who had to dri­ve twice as far to get to a doc­tor, for instance. Watch for AFP to con­tin­ue with ads about envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions putting busi­ness own­ers under water and Med­ic­aid expan­sion caus­ing doc­tor over­load, Phillips said.

    “I’m just going to say this, though it prob­a­bly comes out sound­ing like a joke: We need to keep tak­ing back vic­tim­hood,” Phillips said. “The Democ­rats can­not own that.”

    Culling can­di­dates

    “When you look at the bad can­di­dates this year, it’s the left that had a gang that could­n’t shoot straight,” Phillips said.

    To wit: Bruce Bra­ley cluck­ing over chick­ens and diss­ing farm­ers in Iowa. He lost that Sen­ate seat to Repub­li­can Joni Ernst. Col­orado Sen­a­tor Mark Udall picked up the nick­name “Mark Uterus” because of his per­ceived one-note cam­paign to talk about repro­duc­tive rights. He lost his seat to Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cory Gard­ner.


    Although Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty did­n’t spend mon­ey in pri­ma­ry races this year, it takes care to pub­li­cize its favorites, Phillips said. That’ll con­tin­ue in the 2016 run-up, with AFP email blasts high­light­ing Flori­da Sen­a­tor Mar­co Rubio’s “pos­i­tive Amer­i­can dream sto­ry” and Ken­tucky Sen­a­tor Rand Paul’s “win­ning eco­nom­ic mes­sage,” Phillips said, nam­ing two poten­tial pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls on its watch list.

    Ground game

    To improve Repub­li­can vot­er out­reach, Phillips has been build­ing AFP as a mir­ror image of the left­’s labor unions and issues groups. A mix of 550 paid AFP work­ers and hun­dreds of vol­un­teers went toe to toe with union activists in Iowa and Wis­con­sin, Planned Par­ent­hood sup­port­ers in Col­orado and North Car­oli­na and envi­ron­men­tal­ists in Flori­da, Phillips said.

    Hav­ing seen results this year, AFP will swell its pay­roll for 2016. “We’re just going to have to keep get­ting big­ger,” he said.

    AFP’s mon­ey well is deep: The non­prof­it can count on huge checks from mys­tery donors aligned with the Kochs as well as small dona­tions from the thou­sands of peo­ple on its fundrais­ing e‑mail list.

    So it looks like the AFP is plan­ning on culling can­di­dates with­out a good anti-gov­ern­ment sob sto­ry and then pro­ceed­ing to swell their vic­tim­ized cam­paigns with paid oper­a­tives. Oh joy. The GOP is plan­ning on bold­ly exe­cut­ing the exact same strat­e­gy it always uses. Let’s hope there’s at least going to be more flair to the GOP’s vic­tim­hood cam­paign this time around just to spice things up. It should­n’t be too hard to pull off. At this point, pret­ty much every­thing should be a muse.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 18, 2014, 7:36 pm
  41. Oh look. A Koch-backed anti-envi­ron­men­tal group decid­ed to make a joke cam­paign equat­ing EPA reg­u­la­tions to tor­ture. It was a some­what appro­pri­ate joke con­sid­er­ing the intense glob­al pain and suf­fer­ing that’s going to be expe­ri­enced by life on earth plan­et as a result of out of con­trol human activ­i­ty and col­laps­ing ecosys­tems, but only if you assume “The Amer­i­can Ener­gy Alliance” told this joke out of a dark sense of self-ref­er­en­tial ironyn:

    Cli­mate Progress
    Koch Group On The EPA: ‘At Least The CIA Isn’t Tor­tur­ing Amer­i­cans’

    by Emi­ly Atkin Post­ed on Decem­ber 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm Updat­ed: Decem­ber 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

    The Amer­i­can Ener­gy Alliance is test­ing out a new tac­tic for fight­ing the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency: com­par­ing the agency’s pro­posed reg­u­la­tions to tor­ture tac­tics com­mit­ted against ter­ror sus­pects at Guan­tanamo Bay.

    In a short blog post and com­ic post­ed Fri­day, the pro-fos­sil fuel non-prof­it said the EPA’s pro­posed lim­its on smog-form­ing pol­lu­tants and car­bon diox­ide were com­pa­ra­ble to tac­tics out­lined in the Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Committee’s recent­ly released report inves­ti­gat­ing the CIA’s use of “enhanced inter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques” in the after­math of the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks. In one instance, the group implied the EPA’s attempts to reduce pol­lu­tion were even worse than tor­ture, claim­ing the reg­u­la­tions would kill Amer­i­can jobs, raise ener­gy costs, and “crush” small busi­ness­es.

    “[I]t’s clear that the CIA isn’t the only gov­ern­ment agency engaged in tor­ture,” the post read. “At least the CIA isn’t tor­tur­ing Amer­i­cans.”


    The Amer­i­can Ener­gy Alliance — a group with deep ties to the bil­lion­aire broth­ers Charles and David Koch — called out two pro­posed EPA reg­u­la­tions at the cen­ter of the so-called “EPA Tor­ture Report”: new­ly pro­posed lim­its on ground-lev­el ozone pol­lu­tion (the main ingre­di­ent of urban smog) and pro­posed lim­its on green­house gas emis­sions from coal plants.

    Mean­while, media reports sur­round­ing the Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Committee’s actu­al tor­ture report focused on two grue­some details: the forced feed­ing of inmates of puréed food through their anus­es, and that more than 20 per­cent of detainees sub­ject to tor­ture tac­tics were “wrong­ful­ly held.”

    With both the pro­posed ozone and car­bon reg­u­la­tions, the Amer­i­can Ener­gy Alliance has claimed they would be extreme­ly cost­ly to busi­ness­es, pre­dict­ing tril­lions of dol­lars in loss­es for both the man­u­fac­tur­ing and coal indus­tries. Those pur­port­ed job loss­es amount to the tor­ture of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens, the group argues.

    The CIA’s tor­ture of detainees at Guan­ta­mo Bay report­ed­ly includ­ed threat­en­ing to kill and rape detainees’ moth­ers, per­form­ing mock buri­als on inmates, “use of insects,” sleep depri­va­tion, and use of dia­pers.

    There is rea­son to doubt the dra­mat­ic mon­e­tary and job loss­es pre­dict­ed by the Amer­i­can Ener­gy Alliance and oth­er indus­try groups as a result of the pro­posed EPA reg­u­la­tions. For one, both reg­u­la­tions are in pro­posed stages, mean­ing the final rules could look dras­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent than they are now. For anoth­er, indus­try groups have been vast­ly over­es­ti­mat­ing the cost of envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions like these since the EPA first began issu­ing reg­u­la­tion of this kind.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 16, 2014, 3:40 pm
  42. Anoth­er arm of the Kochto­pus, this one slith­er­ing around the Roman Catholic Church, shows itself at the Church’s Napa Insti­tute:


    (Please copy and paste link if it’s not active — or search the sto­ry on the Nation­al Catholic Reporter)

    Some gems from the sto­ry:

    “The aim is a mobi­liza­tion to bet­ter equip these Catholics for their role in “the next Amer­i­ca,” a phrase used by Philadel­phia Arch­bish­op Charles Cha­put in a 2010 essay in the jour­nal First Things. The essay inspired the for­ma­tion of the Napa Insti­tute.

    “The next Amer­i­ca” is broad­ly defined as a sec­u­lar cul­ture with lit­tle time for reli­gious ques­tions and even less inter­est in hear­ing what Catholic teach­ing might bring to bear in the pub­lic forum.

    A cen­tral insti­tute mantra is that atten­dees are being instruct­ed and inspired, fine-tuned and focused to bold­ly defend Catholic prin­ci­ples in the civic are­na. Mar­quee issues include defense of reli­gious free­dom, tra­di­tion­al mar­riage and the unborn...

    “The found­ing pres­i­dent of the Den­ver Lega­tus Chap­ter, John Sae­man, and his wife, Car­ol, raised eye­brows in late Novem­ber when they penned a Wash­ing­ton Post op-ed that said their belief in Pope Fran­cis’ vision of Catholic social teach­ing moti­vates their activ­i­ties in Catholic char­i­ties and also moti­vates their finan­cial sup­port for Free­dom Part­ners, a non­prof­it found­ed by bil­lion­aires Charles and David Koch to defend the free mar­ket sys­tem.

    “For us, pro­mot­ing lim­it­ed gov­ern­ment along­side the Kochs is an impor­tant part of heed­ing Pope Fran­cis’s call to love and serve the poor,” the Sae­mans wrote.”

    I post­ed this here, but it would very well be post­ed on any of this web­site’s Vat­i­can links as well. Plen­ty of hay is made about Fran­cis’ pleas for the poor, but what, if any­thing, is he real­ly doing — or can he do — to reform the Vat­i­can Bank and its mon­ey-laun­der­ing past? I also notice that in the sto­ry, sev­er­al Popes from the 20th cen­tu­ry are men­tioned, but cer­tain­ly not JP1, who was like Fran­cis 1.0, only more to the left. I find that inter­est­ing...

    Posted by Sampson | December 23, 2014, 8:46 am
  43. Auto deal­ers in mid­dle Ten­nessee have rea­son to cel­e­brate today: Nashville’s bus rapid tran­sit pro­pos­al is offi­cial­ly dead:

    The Ten­nessean
    Nashville MTA: Amp is dead
    Joey Gar­ri­son, jgarrison@tennessean.com 6:12 p.m. CST Jan­u­ary 22, 2015

    The Amp, Nashville’s con­tro­ver­sial bus rapid tran­sit pro­pos­al, appears dead once and for all after May­or Karl Dean’s top tran­sit offi­cial said Thurs­day that the city plans to cease work on the project.

    Metro Tran­sit Author­i­ty CEO Steve Bland rec­om­mend­ed to his board Thurs­day that detailed design on the Amp come to an end — a final stamp of defeat three months after Dean announced he would not seek cap­i­tal con­struc­tion funds for the $174 mil­lion project dur­ing his final term in office.

    Metro, at the time of Dean’s move in Octo­ber, was still com­mit­ted to com­plet­ing $7.5 mil­lion in design and oth­er pre­lim­i­nary Amp work that the Metro Coun­cil had already approved. So far, $2.5 mil­lion has been spent, but Bland­’s remarks mean that $5 mil­lion of unspent Amp dol­lars still left from that pool are no longer com­mit­ted to one of the most con­tentious pro­pos­als in recent Nashville his­to­ry.

    The city now plans to look at oth­er cor­ri­dors for tran­sit in addi­tion to West End-Broad­way, where the Amp was planned. Pub­lic meet­ings on this process are to begin in Feb­ru­ary.


    Divi­sive from the begin­ning

    The may­or’s com­ments Thurs­day veered from those made in Octo­ber when he announced he would­n’t pur­sue any more local or state funds for the Amp. Back then, he said “now is not the time to put on the brakes” and that Metro had always known that a project of this size can take awhile to get off the ground.

    Odds seemed against the Amp, how­ev­er, even before Thurs­day’s news that plan­ning would cease. With a new may­or set to replace Dean in Sep­tem­ber, it seemed unlike­ly Nashville’s next leader would car­ry the torch of a project that has split the city.

    Dean’s Amp project proved con­tentious from the time he rolled it out in 2012, split­ting the very West Nashville neigh­bor­hoods it would serve into camps for and against it. Detrac­tors ral­lied under “Stop Amp,” led by auto mogul Lee Bea­man, lim­ou­sine com­pa­ny own­er Rick Williams and attor­ney Dianne Fer­rell Neal. Oppo­nents found allies from Repub­li­can state law­mak­ers, who passed leg­is­la­tion that would have made the Amp’s approval and imple­men­ta­tion hard­er to reach.

    Besides sus­pend­ing con­struc­tion designs and real­lo­cat­ing Amp funds, Bland rec­om­mend­ed the fol­low­ing Thurs­day:

    • “Reimag­ine” Nashville’s pub­lic tran­sit bus sys­tem in the upcom­ing strate­gic plan.

    • As part of the strate­gic plan, ful­ly engage oth­er trans­porta­tion part­ners: the Ten­nessee Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, Metro Pub­lic Works, Metro Plan­ning and the Nashville Area Met­ro­pol­i­tan Plan­ning Orga­ni­za­tion.

    • Con­tin­ue to engage with the Fed­er­al Tran­sit Admin­is­tra­tion, which had approved fed­er­al funds for Dean’s Amp project.

    • Keep get­ting bet­ter “with or with­out” a large pub­lic tran­sit project.

    “Oppo­nents found allies from Repub­li­can state law­mak­ers, who passed leg­is­la­tion that would have made the Amp’s approval and imple­men­ta­tion hard­er to reach.”

    And don’t for­get two plucky bil­lion­aires on a mis­sion to over­rule local gov­ern­ments every­where. They also ‘helped’. ‘Help­ing’ oth­ers is what they do. They just can’t help them­selves!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 23, 2015, 10:33 am
  44. Just what a mega-city fac­ing a mega-drought like Sao Paulo needs: an infes­ta­tion of Lib­er­tar­i­an Koch-heads intent on let­ting the mar­ket solve all of Brazil’s prob­lems:

    Teen lib­er­tar­i­an is face of Brazil’s young free-mar­ket right
    Asso­ci­at­ed Press By ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON
    arch 30, 2015 4:52 PM

    SAO PAULO (AP) — Micro­phone in hand and stand­ing atop the sound truck, the raspy-voiced protest leader jabbed his fin­ger into the air shout­ing for the ouster of Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Dil­ma Rouss­eff, ignit­ing wild cheers from the crowd below him.

    “What Lula and Dil­ma have done should­n’t just result in their being banned from pol­i­tics. It should result in them being in jail!” Kim Kataguiri yelled, denounc­ing Rouss­eff and her pre­de­ces­sor, Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Sil­va.

    The March 15 demon­stra­tion was the largest Sao Paulo had seen in more than three decades, since 1984 protests demand­ing demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­tions after a long dic­ta­tor­ship.

    But more sur­pris­ing than the crowd of more than 200,000, accord­ing to the Datafol­ha polling and sta­tis­tics agency, was the fact it was being led by Kataguiri, a skin­ny, 19-year-old col­lege dropout, and oth­er young Brazil­ian activists inspired by lib­er­tar­i­an­ism and con­ser­v­a­tive free-mar­ket ideals.

    The grand­son of Japan­ese immi­grants, Kataguiri is a social media star whose quirky videos skew­er Rouss­eff and the rul­ing par­ty’s social wel­fare poli­cies. His ascent as a protest fig­ure has been rapid. Two years ago, when protests erupt­ed across Brazil over cor­rup­tion and poor pub­lic ser­vices, Kataguiri was a high school­er who avoid­ed the unrest.

    Today, he is the pub­lic face of the Free Brazil Move­ment, a grow­ing force that is more focused than the 2013 unrest that expressed a wide range of mid­dle-class anger. Brazil’s new wave of protests are seen as a right-lean­ing move­ment clear­ly chan­neled against Rouss­eff and her Work­ers’ Par­ty.

    A widen­ing kick­back scan­dal at Petro­bras, the state oil com­pa­ny, is one of sev­er­al com­plaints under­min­ing the admin­is­tra­tion. Kataguiri and oth­ers are strik­ing a chord with Brazil­ians fed up with soar­ing infla­tion, a high and grow­ing tax bur­den, and those who blame gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion for hob­bling Brazil’s econ­o­my, which grew just 0.1 per­cent last year and is expect­ed to shrink in 2015.

    “We are start­ing to see an agen­da that is very polit­i­cal­ly dri­ven and clear­ly against the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and Pres­i­dent Dil­ma,” said Car­los Melo, a polit­i­cal sci­en­tist at the Sao Paulo-based Insper busi­ness school. Com­pared to 2013, “these protests are pre­sent­ing very dif­fer­ent visions.”

    Kataguiri says he had a polit­i­cal awak­en­ing two years ago when he began ques­tion­ing a class­mate’s posi­tion that a pop­u­lar cash trans­fer pro­gram applaud­ed by many experts around the globe was respon­si­ble for the expan­sion of Brazil’s mid­dle class and for lift­ing mil­lions of cit­i­zens from pover­ty dur­ing the last decade.

    He believed the cred­it instead should go to the coun­try’s com­modi­ties boom. “That’s what has helped the poor,” he said.

    He began post­ing satir­ic videos to YouTube, which gained a fol­low­ing. He joined two dig­i­tal media col­lec­tives and pro­duced more clips. Along the way, Kataguiri read the works of free-mar­ket econ­o­mists Mil­ton Fried­man and Lud­wig Von Mis­es.

    His videos, in which he and his cohorts often don wacky cos­tumes and dress up as polit­i­cal fig­ures such as Fidel Cas­tro, caught the eye of Dani­lo Gen­tili, a top late-night TV come­di­an who fierce­ly lam­poons the gov­ern­ment. The come­di­an asked Kataguiri and oth­er young, anti-Rouss­eff pro­duc­ers and design­ers to help cre­ate a sketch before the Octo­ber pres­i­den­tial runoff vote, which saw Rouss­eff nar­row­ly beat her more con­ser­v­a­tive, mar­ket-friend­ly oppo­nent.

    Today, Kataguiri and the Free Brazil Move­ment team work from an office that has a tech-start­up feel, with two brown leather couch­es and a clothes rack hold­ing cos­tumes used in their videos. Tequi­la and mescal bot­tles sit along a book­shelf hold­ing Rand Paul’s “The Tea Par­ty Goes to Wash­ing­ton” and Rus­sell Kirk’s “The Pol­i­tics of Pru­dence.”

    Kataguiri and oth­ers in the group believe the best rem­e­dy for Brazil’s cor­rup­tion is the expan­sion of free-mar­ket views and mak­ing the gov­ern­ment small­er and more fis­cal­ly respon­si­ble — fol­low­ing clas­sic tenets of Amer­i­can con­ser­vatism.

    Some media in Brazil have railed against the young lib­er­tar­i­ans, accus­ing them of receiv­ing mon­ey from right-wing groups in the U.S. — specif­i­cal­ly the bil­lion­aire ener­gy mogul Koch broth­ers, strong sup­port­ers of Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive caus­es.

    Kataguiri and Renan San­tos, the oth­er co-founder of the Free Brazil Move­ment, deny this, say­ing the U.S. influ­ence is strict­ly ide­o­log­i­cal. Their cam­paigns are low-cost and eas­i­ly sus­tained by pri­vate dona­tions and fundrais­ing.

    Some mem­bers of the move­ment have brought home tech­niques from the Atlas Lead­er­ship Acad­e­my, a train­ing pro­gram run by the Atlas Net­work, a Wash­ing­ton-based orga­ni­za­tion pro­mot­ing free-mar­ket poli­cies around the world. Affil­i­at­ed groups in oth­er Brazil­ian cities where protests took place on March 15 are con­nect­ed to Stu­dents for Lib­er­ty, a U.S. youth group allied with the lib­er­tar­i­an Cato Insti­tute think tank, which is sup­port­ed by the Koch broth­ers.


    You have to love the denials of any invis­i­ble Koch hands giv­en that:

    Some mem­bers of the move­ment have brought home tech­niques from the Atlas Lead­er­ship Acad­e­my, a train­ing pro­gram run by the Atlas Net­work, a Wash­ing­ton-based orga­ni­za­tion pro­mot­ing free-mar­ket poli­cies around the world. Affil­i­at­ed groups in oth­er Brazil­ian cities where protests took place on March 15 are con­nect­ed to Stu­dents for Lib­er­ty, a U.S. youth group allied with the lib­er­tar­i­an Cato Insti­tute think tank, which is sup­port­ed by the Koch broth­ers.

    Putting aside the fact that the Kochs found­ed the Cato Insti­tute and hold con­tin­ue to hold enor­mous sway over the orga­ni­za­tion, note that it was­n’t just that a cou­ple mem­bers brought back tech­niques from the Atlas Lead­er­ship Acad­e­my. Fabio Oster­mann, one of the move­men­t’s lead­erswas a Koch Sum­mer Fel­low at the iron­i­cal­ly names ‘Insti­tute for Humane Stud­ies’ (via Google trans­late):

    Car­ta Cap­i­tal
    Who is behind the protest on 15
    “Stu­dents for Free­dom” (EPL) are fund­ed by US oil cor­po­ra­tion attack­ing indige­nous rights, plun­ders envi­ron­ment and has obvi­ous inter­est in achiev­ing Petro­bras
    by Anto­nio Car­los — pub­lished 03/13/2015 09:07, last mod­i­fied 13/03/2015 16:42

    David Koch had fun say­ing that was part of “the biggest com­pa­ny you’ve nev­er heard.” One of the pow­er­ful broth­ers Koch, own­ers of the sec­ond largest pri­vate com­pa­ny in the Unit­ed States with an annu­al inflow of $ 115 bil­lion, they only became known for their evil oper­a­tions in the polit­i­cal sce­nario of the coun­try.

    If these pow­er­ful char­ac­ters are unknown in the Unit­ed States, they will say in Brazil? How­ev­er they are direct­ly involved in calls for the day of protest on March 15 by the depo­si­tion of Pres­i­dent Dil­ma.

    Accord­ing to the Fol­ha de São Paulo “Brazil Free Move­ment”, a vir­tu­al orga­ni­za­tion, is the main con­ven­er of the protest group. The move­ment of the page gives the names of its colum­nists and coor­di­na­tors in the States. Accord­ing to The Econ­o­mist, the group was “found­ed last year to pro­mote the answers of the free mar­ket for the coun­try’s prob­lems.”

    Among the “colum­nists” of MBL are Luan Speran­dio Teix­eira, who is aca­d­e­m­ic of the Law School Fed­er­al Uni­ver­si­ty of Espíri­to San­to and col­lab­o­ra­tor net­work Stu­dents For Free­dom (EPL) of the Holy Spir­it [leia a ressal­va made by Luan, mes­sage in the “Oth­er words ”]; Fabio Oster­mann, who is coor­di­na­tor of the same move­ment in Rio Grande do Sul, tax the Insti­tute of Busi­ness Stud­ies (IEE) and exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Insti­tute Order Free, co-founder of Stu­dents For Free­dom Net­work (EPL), which was the first pres­i­dent of its Advi­so­ry Board, and cur­rent­ly Direc­tor of the Lib­er­al Insti­tute Insti­tu­tion­al Rela­tions (IL). Oth­er par­tic­i­pants are Rafael Bol­soni the New Par­ty and the EPL; Julian Tor­res defined as intel­lec­tu­al entre­pre­neur, the New Par­ty, the Lib­er­tar­i­an Par­ty, and the EPL.

    Accord­ing to Tor­res’s pro­file on LinkedIn, his edu­ca­tion was Atlas Lead­er­ship Acad­e­my. Anoth­er mem­ber with this line­up is Fabio Oster­man, who also attend­ed the Koch Sum­mer Fel­low at the Insti­tute for Humane Stud­ies.

    The Oscip Stu­dents for Free­dom is the Brazil­ian branch of Stu­dents for Lib­er­ty, an orga­ni­za­tion fund­ed by the Koch broth­ers to con­vince the stu­dent world of the cor­rect­ness of their greedy pro­pos­als. The Pres­i­dent of the Exec­u­tive Coun­cil is Rafael Dal Molin Route, which besides being the Uni­ver­si­ty of San­ta Maria, it’s offi­cial ord­nance (2nd lieu­tenant QMB) in the local gar­ri­son.

    Oth­er fronts of the Koch broth­ers are the Atlas Eco­nom­ic Research Foun­da­tion, which spon­sors the Lead­er­ship Acad­e­my, and the Insti­tute for Humane Stud­ies, to which the mem­bers of MBL are con­nect­ed.

    Among the harm­ful activ­i­ties of the broth­er is the theft of 5 mil­lion bar­rels of oil on an Indi­an reser­va­tion (which led to a fine of $ 25 mil­lion from the US gov­ern­ment) and a fine of 1.5 mil­lion dol­lars by inter­fer­ing in elec­tions Calif. Green­peace con­sid­ers the fea­tured oppo­nents broth­ers of the fight against cli­mate change. Koch were fined $ 30 mil­lion in 300 oil spills.

    Koch Indus­tries has its main activ­i­ties relat­ed to the exploita­tion of oil and gas, pipelines, refin­ing and pro­duc­tion of chem­i­cals and fer­til­iz­ers derived. With this range of activ­i­ties is not hard to imag­ine your inter­est in Brazil — Petro­bras course. His min­ions do not hide that fact.


    Also note that Oster­man­n’s Koch Sum­mer Fel­low intern­ship at the Insti­tute for Humane Stud­ies (Charles Koch is chair­man of the board) imme­di­at­ed­ly fol­lowed his intern­ship at the Atlas Net­work. And this was back in 2009, so he’s not exact­ly new to the Koch-head scene.

    And then there’s the Koch-heads of “Stu­dents for Lib­er­ty”:

    Pan­do Dai­ly
    Snow­den praised for fight­ing gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance… by group that LOVES cor­po­rate sur­veil­lance

    By Mark Ames
    On Feb­ru­ary 20, 2015

    Last Fri­day, NSA whistle­blow­er Edward Snow­den Skyped into a Wash­ing­ton DC Mar­riott Hotel con­fer­ence hall to proud­ly accept “The Stu­dents For Lib­er­ty Alum­nus of the Year Award.”

    The Stu­dents For Lib­er­ty describes itself as “a rapid­ly grow­ing net­work of pro-lib­er­ty stu­dents from all over the world.” Their big award was giv­en to Snow­den for “ini­ti­at­ing a glob­al con­ver­sa­tion on the bal­ance of pow­er between gov­ern­ments and peo­ples that has led to and con­tin­ues to bring about mean­ing­ful reforms to intru­sive, abu­sive, and unjust gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance pro­grams.”

    If your award is con­cerned about how the gov­ern­ment is using tech­nol­o­gy to sur­veil cit­i­zens then Edward Snow­den is an uncon­tro­ver­sial win­ner. Not only did Snow­den expose gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance but, as a for­mer intel­li­gence con­trac­tor, he exposed how much gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance is han­dled by pri­vate com­pa­nies.

    In accept­ing his award, Snow­den told the audi­ence: “As they take the pri­vate records of all our lives, and they aggre­gate a dossier, how can that be said to be con­sti­tu­tion­al?”

    All of which makes it slight­ly shock­ing to dis­cov­er the iden­ti­ty of anoth­er recent win­ner of Stu­dents For Liberty’s big award: Peter Thiel, the founder of one of the NSA’s biggest con­trac­tors, Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies. If a gov­ern­ment is try­ing to dig through pri­vate records and aggre­gate a dossier, Palan­tir is the com­pa­ny they call.


    In addi­tion to prais­ing Snow­den at last week’s cer­e­mo­ny, Stu­dents For Lib­er­ty also award­ed their “Event of the Year” to anti-Marx­ist lib­er­tar­i­an stu­dents at Hon­duras’ Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty for brave­ly col­lab­o­rat­ing with the uni­ver­si­ty admin­is­tra­tion to suc­cess­ful­ly destroy a left­wing stu­dent protest cam­paign. Left­ists and jour­nal­ists in Hon­duras have been ter­ror­ized ever since a 2009 US-backed coup over­threw pres­i­dent Manuel Zelaya.


    So what exact­ly is “Stu­dents For Lib­er­ty”? Accord­ing to its web­site, “Stu­dents For Lib­er­ty has grown into the largest lib­er­tar­i­an stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion in the world, with over 800 stu­dent lead­ers sup­port­ing over 1,350 stu­dent groups rep­re­sent­ing over 100,000 stu­dents on all inhab­it­ed con­ti­nents.”

    Like most of the lib­er­tar­i­an nomen­klatu­ra, this group gets most of its mon­ey from the Koch broth­ers. Google, anoth­er cor­po­ra­tion which has worked close­ly with the US gov­ern­ment, recent­ly joined the list of big cor­po­rate spon­sors. SFL’s Board of Advi­sors includes such heroes of free­dom as “His Serene High­ness Prince von Liecht­en­stein” — whose roy­al fam­i­ly rules over an exclu­sive off­shore bank­ing tax haven favored by glob­al bil­lion­aires who think Switzer­land is too trans­par­ent.

    The group was formed in 2008 by Alexan­der McCobin, while he was work­ing in the mar­ket­ing depart­ment of the Cato Insti­tute (neé “The Charles Koch Foun­da­tion”). The idea to form SFL came a year ear­li­er in 2007, while McCobin was in the Charles G. Koch Sum­mer Fel­low Pro­gram at the Insti­tute For Humane Stud­ies, where Charles G. Koch serves as chair­man of the board. (My edi­tor Paul Carr is prob­a­bly get­ting blis­ters jam­ming his fore­fin­ger on the “Koch Alarm” sound effect he plays onPan­do­LIVE when­ev­er I men­tion the Kochs. But hey, don’t blame me for these two-legged DC car­i­ca­tures, I just reports the facts.)

    In 2009, McCobin and his fiancée were sued by for­mer col­leagues at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia for alleged­ly mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing funds from a non­prof­it to help high school stu­dents learn debat­ing skills. McCobin was also the founder of Penn Lib­er­tar­i­ans.

    When McCobin’s group gave their award to Peter Thiel, their “west coast direc­tor” described Thiel on stage as a “per­son­al role mod­el of mine.”

    Indeed, Thiel’s pres­ence was every­where at the Stu­dents For Lib­er­ty schmooz­er this year, even if the man him­self was absent. After Snowden’s skyped appear­ance, lib­er­tar­i­an celebri­ty Ron Paul took the stage with long­time Cato Insti­tute board direc­tor and FoxNews truther Andrew Napoli­tano. Ron Paul’s 2012 cam­paign for pres­i­dent — sup­port­ed by Snow­den and Green­wald — was almost entire­ly fund­ed by Peter Thiel.

    The fol­low­ing night, Stu­dents For Lib­er­ty fea­tured Ron Paul’s stub­by heir, Sen. Rand Paul — whose run for pres­i­dent in 2016 is being fund­ed by Thiel’s co-founder at Palan­tir, Joe Lons­dale, who serves on Rand Paul’s finance team and co-host­ed Sil­i­con Val­ley fundrais­ers.


    So that was like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Lib­er­tar­i­an sug­ar dad­dies. But remem­ber, all those spunky Lib­er­tar­i­ans in Brazil have NOTHING to do with the Koch broth­ers oth­er than being inspired by their awe­some­ness. And maybe attend­ing their lead­er­ship schools. And maybe intern­ing as a Koch Sum­mer Fel­low. And maybe coor­di­nat­ing with a Koch-fund­ed “stu­dent” group that hands out awards for things like:

    In addi­tion to prais­ing Snow­den at last week’s cer­e­mo­ny, Stu­dents For Lib­er­ty also award­ed their “Event of the Year” to anti-Marx­ist lib­er­tar­i­an stu­dents at Hon­duras’ Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty for brave­ly col­lab­o­rat­ing with the uni­ver­si­ty admin­is­tra­tion to suc­cess­ful­ly destroy a left­wing stu­dent protest cam­paign. Left­ists and jour­nal­ists in Hon­duras have been ter­ror­ized ever since a 2009 US-backed coup over­threw pres­i­dent Manuel Zelaya.

    But no, the Koch’s aren’t try­ing to get Brazil’s mid­dle-class to impeach Dil­ma Rouse­eff so a right-wing gov­ern­ment can give the Kochs even more access to Brazil’s resources. Not, the Kochs are just so inspi­ra­tional that peo­ple can’t stop them­selves from think­ing and act­ing like a Koch-head. It’s a shock­ing­ly com­mon afflic­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 1, 2015, 6:23 pm
  45. cov­er on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous is get­ting a reboot. Hope­ful­ly it cov­ers stuff like this:

    The Aspen Times
    Fed­er­al judge dis­miss­es Koch kid­nap­ping case

    Rick Car­roll

    June 7, 2015

    A fed­er­al law­suit that made kid­nap­ping alle­ga­tions against Bill Koch, own­er of the Cas­tle Creek Road prop­er­ty that is on the mar­ket for $100 mil­lion, has been dis­missed.

    U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge Robert E. Black­burn threw out the case Wednes­day after par­ties on both sides agreed to have it dis­missed, accord­ing to court records. The dis­missal, entered in Den­ver fed­er­al court, notes that both sides will “bear their own attor­ney fees, costs and expens­es, except as oth­er­wise agreed among the par­ties.” The suit was dis­missed with prej­u­dice, which means the claims can­not be filed again.


    In Octo­ber 2012, Kir­by Martensen, a for­mer exec­u­tive at Oxbow Group, which Koch found­ed, sued Koch in Cal­i­for­nia. The suit was trans­ferred to Den­ver in Sep­tem­ber 2013.

    The suit said Koch, whose Cas­tle Creek Road estate is the for­mer loca­tion of the Elk Moun­tain Lodge, invit­ed Martensen to Koch’s Bear Ranch near Som­er­set, about 70 miles from Aspen, for a two-day cor­po­rate retreat in March 2012. Martensen flew from San Fran­cis­co to Aspen, where Koch met him March 21.

    But Koch had oth­er plans than just a busi­ness meet­ing, the suit said. After a two-day tour of Koch’s 19th-cen­tu­ry-style West­ern town, Martensen was inter­ro­gat­ed by two of Koch’s agents — who were off-duty Flori­da police offi­cers — who accused him of try­ing to defraud the ener­gy com­pa­ny Oxbow and Koch out of hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars. Martensen also was alleged to have tak­en bribes from com­peti­tors of Oxbow.

    The agents then alleged­ly served Martensen with his ter­mi­na­tion papers and lat­er took him to an SUV, the suit says. Martensen was told he would be tak­en to Aspen-Pitkin Coun­ty Air­port that night, but instead was tak­en to Den­ver against his will, the suit says. From Den­ver, he was flown in a pri­vate jet to Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, where they land­ed at approx­i­mate­ly 4 a.m.. From there, Martensen took a cab to his home, defy­ing the agents’ instruc­tions to be tak­en to a near­by Court­yard Mar­riott hotel, the suit says.

    Martensen’s suit says he didn’t take any bribes but instead was retal­i­at­ed against because he called out the company’s alleged scheme to dodge pay­ing $200 mil­lion in fed­er­al tax­es with its Asian trad­ing busi­ness.

    Koch, in a Dec. 12, 2013, depo­si­tion, said Martensen was tak­en to Den­ver because Koch’s pilot “didn’t like fly­ing in and out of Aspen, par­tic­u­lar­ly after dark.”

    Koch’s attor­neys argued that the kid­nap­ping claim was invalid because when they were at the 7‑Eleven in Car­bon­dale — where they stopped en route to Den­ver — Martensen was allowed to go in the store at his leisure. Martensen could have made a cell­phone call to 911 or even fled, they claimed. Dur­ing a Sept. 3, 2012, depo­si­tion, Martensen explained that he thought he was under arrest at the time.

    Koch is the younger broth­er of Charles, David and Fred­er­ick Koch. Forbes recent­ly esti­mat­ed Bill Koch’s net worth to be $3.2 bil­lion. William had a strained rela­tion­ship with Charles and David — well known for their heavy­weight sta­tus in the Repub­li­can par­ty — over the years because of busi­ness-relat­ed fall­outs and feuds.

    “Koch is the younger broth­er of Charles, David and Fred­er­ick Koch.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 7, 2015, 7:20 pm
  46. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous is get­ting a reboot. Hope­ful­ly it cov­ers stuff like this:

    The Aspen Times
    Fed­er­al judge dis­miss­es Koch kid­nap­ping case

    Rick Car­roll

    June 7, 2015

    A fed­er­al law­suit that made kid­nap­ping alle­ga­tions against Bill Koch, own­er of the Cas­tle Creek Road prop­er­ty that is on the mar­ket for $100 mil­lion, has been dis­missed.

    U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge Robert E. Black­burn threw out the case Wednes­day after par­ties on both sides agreed to have it dis­missed, accord­ing to court records. The dis­missal, entered in Den­ver fed­er­al court, notes that both sides will “bear their own attor­ney fees, costs and expens­es, except as oth­er­wise agreed among the par­ties.” The suit was dis­missed with prej­u­dice, which means the claims can­not be filed again.


    In Octo­ber 2012, Kir­by Martensen, a for­mer exec­u­tive at Oxbow Group, which Koch found­ed, sued Koch in Cal­i­for­nia. The suit was trans­ferred to Den­ver in Sep­tem­ber 2013.

    The suit said Koch, whose Cas­tle Creek Road estate is the for­mer loca­tion of the Elk Moun­tain Lodge, invit­ed Martensen to Koch’s Bear Ranch near Som­er­set, about 70 miles from Aspen, for a two-day cor­po­rate retreat in March 2012. Martensen flew from San Fran­cis­co to Aspen, where Koch met him March 21.

    But Koch had oth­er plans than just a busi­ness meet­ing, the suit said. After a two-day tour of Koch’s 19th-cen­tu­ry-style West­ern town, Martensen was inter­ro­gat­ed by two of Koch’s agents — who were off-duty Flori­da police offi­cers — who accused him of try­ing to defraud the ener­gy com­pa­ny Oxbow and Koch out of hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars. Martensen also was alleged to have tak­en bribes from com­peti­tors of Oxbow.

    The agents then alleged­ly served Martensen with his ter­mi­na­tion papers and lat­er took him to an SUV, the suit says. Martensen was told he would be tak­en to Aspen-Pitkin Coun­ty Air­port that night, but instead was tak­en to Den­ver against his will, the suit says. From Den­ver, he was flown in a pri­vate jet to Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, where they land­ed at approx­i­mate­ly 4 a.m.. From there, Martensen took a cab to his home, defy­ing the agents’ instruc­tions to be tak­en to a near­by Court­yard Mar­riott hotel, the suit says.

    Martensen’s suit says he didn’t take any bribes but instead was retal­i­at­ed against because he called out the company’s alleged scheme to dodge pay­ing $200 mil­lion in fed­er­al tax­es with its Asian trad­ing busi­ness.

    Koch, in a Dec. 12, 2013, depo­si­tion, said Martensen was tak­en to Den­ver because Koch’s pilot “didn’t like fly­ing in and out of Aspen, par­tic­u­lar­ly after dark.”

    Koch’s attor­neys argued that the kid­nap­ping claim was invalid because when they were at the 7‑Eleven in Car­bon­dale — where they stopped en route to Den­ver — Martensen was allowed to go in the store at his leisure. Martensen could have made a cell­phone call to 911 or even fled, they claimed. Dur­ing a Sept. 3, 2012, depo­si­tion, Martensen explained that he thought he was under arrest at the time.

    Koch is the younger broth­er of Charles, David and Fred­er­ick Koch. Forbes recent­ly esti­mat­ed Bill Koch’s net worth to be $3.2 bil­lion. William had a strained rela­tion­ship with Charles and David — well known for their heavy­weight sta­tus in the Repub­li­can par­ty — over the years because of busi­ness-relat­ed fall­outs and feuds.

    “Koch is the younger broth­er of Charles, David and Fred­er­ick Koch.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 7, 2015, 7:20 pm
  47. Did you hear the great news? A pow­er­ful new civ­il rights move­ment has tak­en the US polit­i­cal class by storm and now has unpar­al­leled pow­er and influ­ence across through­out not just Wash­ing­ton DC but in state cap­i­tals all over. And the best part is that this new move­ment has already accom­plished an enor­mous amount of their agen­da with min­i­mal resis­tance. For years! But there’s always more work to be done because until every­one is free to dump tox­ic sludge in rivers with­out fear­ing the con­se­quences (at all) no one is tru­ly free:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post
    Charles Koch com­pares work of his polit­i­cal net­work to civ­il rights move­ment

    By Matea Gold August 2 at 5:57 PM

    DANA POINT, Calif. — Charles Koch on Sun­day com­pared the efforts of his polit­i­cal net­work to the fight for civ­il rights and oth­er “free­dom move­ments,” urg­ing his fel­low con­ser­v­a­tive donors to fol­low the lead of fig­ures such as Fred­er­ick Dou­glass, Susan B. Antho­ny and Mar­tin Luther King Jr.

    “His­to­ry demon­strates that when the Amer­i­can peo­ple get moti­vat­ed by an issue of jus­tice that they believe is just, extra­or­di­nary things can be accom­plished,” Koch told 450 wealthy con­ser­v­a­tives assem­bled in the ball­room of a lav­ish ocean­front resort here.

    “Look at the Amer­i­can rev­o­lu­tion, the anti-slav­ery move­ment, the women’s suf­frage move­ment, the civ­il rights move­ment,” he said. “All of these struck a moral chord with the Amer­i­can peo­ple. They all sought to over­come an injus­tice. And we, too, are seek­ing to right injus­tices that are hold­ing our coun­try back.”

    Koch’s remarks came at the start of a ses­sion about the strat­e­gy of the net­work, which aims to spend $889 mil­lion on issue advo­ca­cy, high­er edu­ca­tion grants and polit­i­cal activ­i­ty by the end of next year. As part of the pro­gram, which was not open to the news media, offi­cials from Chile gave pre­sen­ta­tions on the country’s eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal his­to­ry.

    Koch’s efforts to con­nect the network’s push for rolling back gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions to his­toric civ­il rights move­ments is part of a broad attempt to cast the orga­ni­za­tion as one deeply con­cerned about the plight of the poor. Dur­ing his com­ments at the donor retreat, Koch repeat­ed­ly cit­ed the effect of big gov­ern­ment on the low­er class.

    The empha­sis appears to be dri­ven by a sense among net­work offi­cials that they need to do more to win the pub­lic over to their cause. On Sun­day, Koch cit­ed the need to be “much more effec­tive in artic­u­lat­ing” the organization’s mis­sion.

    “If we can­not unite the major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans behind the vision, then we’re done for,” he added. “So that, to me, has to be our num­ber one objec­tive. But to do so, we’ve got to do a much bet­ter job of under­stand­ing what mat­ters most to peo­ple and then to demon­strate that a free soci­ety gives them the best oppor­tu­ni­ty of achiev­ing that.”

    He cit­ed crim­i­nal jus­tice reform as an issue that has res­onat­ed because it “strikes the same chord as past suc­cess­ful free­dom move­ments.”

    The net­work is now look­ing at oth­er poli­cies relat­ed to pover­ty, he said, such as “a fail­ing edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem.”


    Wow, so at the same pri­vate con­fer­ence where the Kochs com­pared them­selves to Fred­er­ick Dou­glass, Susan B. Antho­ny and Mar­tin Luther King Jr., gov­ern­ment offi­cials from Chile also gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on the coun­try’s eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal his­to­ry:

    Koch’s remarks came at the start of a ses­sion about the strat­e­gy of the net­work, which aims to spend $889 mil­lion on issue advo­ca­cy, high­er edu­ca­tion grants and polit­i­cal activ­i­ty by the end of next year. As part of the pro­gram, which was not open to the news media, offi­cials from Chile gave pre­sen­ta­tions on the country’s eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal his­to­ry.

    It sure would be inter­est­ing to learn more about which peri­ods of eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal his­to­ry were dis­cussed.

    And while this is obvi­ous­ly a PR scam on the part of the Kochs, if they’re are going to claim the MLK-league man­tle of social reform, let’s hope they at least suc­ceed in actu­al­ly push­ing through some sig­nif­i­cant crim­i­nal jus­tice reforms. They cer­tain­ly have all the mon­ey they’ll need to advance the cause. Now all they’ll need is the will. In par­tic­u­lar, the will to actu­al­ly pri­or­i­tize crim­i­nal jus­tice reform over the rest of their pro-plu­toc­ra­cy agen­da. It should be a very doable task too. All they’ll have to do to demon­strate a real com­mit­ment to their pro­fessed civ­il rights agen­da is oppose near­ly all of the can­di­dates they have ever sup­port­ed and con­tin­ue to sup­port:

    Expos­ing the Koch Broth­ers’ Stun­ning Hypocrisy on Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Reform
    A new report shows the Koch broth­ers are play­ing both sides of the issue for polit­i­cal advan­tage.
    By Steven Rosen­feld
    July 17, 2015

    A new report traces the excep­tion­al hypocrisy of the Koch broth­ers’ recent high-pro­file inter­est in crim­i­nal jus­tice reform.

    “The Koch Broth­ers’ Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Pump-Fake,” by Amer­i­can Bridge 21st Cen­tu­ry, a watch­dog group “com­mit­ted to hold­ing Repub­li­cans account­able,” traces how the Kochs became inter­est­ed in crim­i­nal jus­tice reform after los­ing a years-long bat­tle with fed­er­al envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tors that began in the late 1990s. The study details how the Kochs have long sup­port­ed can­di­dates and elect­ed offi­cials whose tough-on-crime poli­cies have cre­at­ed the crim­i­nal jus­tice cri­sis they now insist must be reformed—by impos­ing harsh­er sen­tences, build­ing pris­ons and nar­row­ing pro­ba­tion and parole. The report notes how their efforts to part­ner with left-lean­ing groups like the ACLU have led to a pub­lic rela­tions bonan­za eclips­ing their deep­er record of sup­port­ing polit­i­cans who have delivered—and stand by—their dra­con­ian crime poli­cies.

    “For all their pro­fessed con­cerns about reform­ing the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, the Kochs don’t real­ly care— not about the impact­ed fam­i­lies and indi­vid­u­als, any­way— their only con­cern is their bot­tom line,” the authors said. “The Kochs’ crim­i­nal jus­tice cha­rade is just that — a pub­lic rela­tions scam.”

    The Texas Refin­ery Fight

    The Kochs’ wake­up call about excess in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem began in 1996, after they lost bad­ly in a long fight with the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. A grand jury inves­ti­ga­tion of oper­a­tions at a Koch refin­ery in Cor­pus Christie, Texas led to 97 counts of vio­lat­ing fed­er­al envi­ron­men­tal laws. They spent six years in court, even­tu­al­ly pled guilty to one count and paid a $10 mil­lion fine.

    Mark Hold­en, their chief cor­po­rate lawyer, told their home­town news­pa­per, the Wichi­ta Eagle, the expe­ri­ence prompt­ed Charles Koch to study the jus­tice sys­tem, state and fed­er­al. He said Koch was “won­der­ing whether it’s been over-crim­i­nal­ized with too many laws and too many pros­e­cu­tions of non­vi­o­lent offend­ers, not only for him but for every­body. His con­clu­sion: Yes, it has.”

    Hold­en said Koch was wor­ried that too much reg­u­la­to­ry scruti­ny would have an insid­i­ous impact on the company’s “cul­ture.” Koch began donat­ing to the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Crim­i­nal Defense Lawyers, which rep­re­sents defen­dants, giv­ing “sev­en fig­ures” over the years. More recent­ly, the Kochs saw an oppor­tu­ni­ty to join a lib­er­tar­i­an-ori­ent­ed crim­i­nal jus­tice reform effort led by Ken­tucky Sen. Rand Paul and oth­er Repub­li­cans, who have called for reduced sen­tences in non-vio­lent crimes, name­ly drug offens­es. The Kochs also saw that under­writ­ing reform efforts by part­ner­ing with lib­er­al groups like the ACLU would lead to more of a PR bonan­za than a back­lash as arch-par­ti­san Repub­li­cans. Addi­tion­al­ly, the Kochs start­ed a par­al­lel cam­paign tout­ing their job-cre­ator role.

    Need­less to say, pun­dits quick­ly called out the Kochs for jump­ing on the crim­i­nal jus­tice reform band­wag­on. As Wonkette.com wrote last Decem­ber, the effort “sounds all beau­ti­ful… until they add that of course, real lib­er­ty also means rescind­ing restric­tive laws against dump­ing tox­ic sludge into rivers.” This March, Politi­co wrote:

    “Crit­ics would say that the lib­er­tar­i­an-mind­ed Koch broth­ers have ample per­son­al rea­sons to want to cur­tail the pow­er and reach of the U.S. jus­tice sys­tem. After all, it serves both their indus­tri­al and polit­i­cal pur­pos­es to reduce laws on the books that can con­strain them. Thanks to a series of court rul­ings open­ing up the flood­gates for polit­i­cal spend­ing by out­side groups and indi­vid­u­als, Koch mon­ey can now do almost as it pleas­es in pol­i­tics; the Kochto­pus would obvi­ous­ly like to do the same in court against the tree-hug­gers and labor union­ists who so often seek to block them.”

    Prison Com­plex vs. Pub­lic Rela­tions

    The Kochs’ crim­i­nal jus­tice hypocrisy goes far beyond their per­son­al vendet­ta against the gov­ern­ment after los­ing the Cor­pus Christie law­suit. That’s because beyond the string of recent com­ments by Hold­en and oth­er Koch-fund­ed polit­i­cal oper­a­tors about the pos­i­tive PR ben­e­fits of their crim­i­nal jus­tice efforts, the Kochs con­tin­ue to sup­port a long line of Repub­li­cans whose poli­cies have wors­ened the sys­tem they now say must be dis­man­tled. That list includes 2016 pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Gov. Scott Walk­er, ex-Glo­ri­da Gov. Jeb Bush and Louisiana Gov. Bob­by Jin­dal. It also includes gov­er­nors Lar­ry Hogan of Mary­land, Susana Mar­tinez of New Mex­i­co, Mike Pence of Indi­ana and Doug Ducey of Ari­zona. All have enlarged or sus­tained their states’ pris­on­er pop­u­la­tions.

    “What we’re doing more than ever is tak­ing our case to the pub­lic,’ said Steve Lom­bar­do, the Kochs’ new­ly hired head of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions told Yahoo News in March, as the Kochs gath­ered more pos­i­tive press for cham­pi­oning crim­i­nal jus­tice reform. As the Dai­ly Beast said in Jan­u­ary, in a piece writ­ten by a for­mer Koch Sum­mer Fel­low­ship recip­i­ent, “Pre­pare for the soft­er side of Charles and David Koch.”

    That soft­er side—which includes large dona­tions like the recent $25 mil­lion giv­en to the Unit­ed Negro Col­lege Fund—has result­ed in stark­ly hyp­o­crit­i­cal pol­i­tics. Attor­ney Hold­en has told many reporters, such as Time mag­a­zine, that the Kochs do not con­sid­er a politican’s crim­i­nal jus­tice record or views a lit­mus test. That’s a stun­ning con­trast with their uncom­pro­mis­ing views on Oba­macare or envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions.

    Exhib­it A: Wisconsin’s Scott Walk­er

    There is no bet­ter exam­ple of Koch hypocrisy on crim­i­nal jus­tice reform than their sup­port for Gov. Scott Walk­er, who David Koch said in New York City in April should be the 2016 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee.

    Walk­er has a record of sup­port­ing and shep­herd­ing into law numer­ous dra­con­ian prison poli­cies that date back to the late 1990s. .As a state leg­is­la­tor, he helped pass a “truth in sen­tenc­ing” law that end­ed parole and all forms of ear­ly release. As Yahoo News not­ed, “The law has expand­ed the prison pop­u­la­tion in the state and is part­ly respon­si­ble for the fact that the prison bud­get out­paced high­er edu­ca­tion spend­ing for the first time in state his­to­ry in 2011.” That same report said that while he was a state leg­is­la­tor, Walk­er “wrote or co-spon­sored more than two dozen bills lim­it­ing parole, increas­ing prison time for a vari­ety of offens­es, expand­ing the def­i­n­i­tion of crimes, and oth­er crim­i­nal jus­tice charges.”

    Jeb Bush’s record as a can­di­date and Flori­da gov­er­nor is not much bet­ter, the Amer­i­can Bridge report not­ed. As a can­di­date, he told the St. Peters­burg Times he would “build more pris­ons and fill them with more pris­on­ers.” Bush told the Orlan­do Sen­tinel, “You need to lock crim­i­nals up and be sure they serve at least 85 per­cent of their sen­tences… For juve­nile offend­ers, you pun­ish them first and wor­ry about coun­sel­ing them lat­er.”

    Bush was first invit­ed to be a guest at the Koch broth­ers’ polit­i­cal sum­mit in 2006. This spring, Charles Koch told USA Today that Bush was one of five Repub­li­cans who have a “good chance of get­ting elect­ed.” The oth­er four were Walk­er, and sen­a­tors Mar­co Rubio of Flori­da, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Ken­tucky. Lat­er this sum­mer, Jeb Bush will give the keynote address at the “Defend­ing The Amer­i­can Dream” sum­mit orga­nized by Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty, the right-wing group found­ed and fund­ed by the Kochs.

    PR Talk Ver­sus Polit­i­cal Action

    The Koch broth­ers have said their polit­i­cal net­work will seek to raise and spend upwards of $900 mil­lion on the 2016 election—a sum that is on par with what Barack Oba­ma and Mitt Rom­ney each raised and spent in 2012. Yet in con­trast, Mark Hold­en told Time in March that “there are no plans at the moment to increase the finan­cial sup­port for jus­tice reform or form a new non­prof­it devot­ed to the issue.” As the Dai­ly Beast report­ed this Jan­u­ary, “Through their foun­da­tion and relat­ed enti­ties, five Koch staffers work full-time or part-time on crim­i­nal justice….They could not pledge that the amount spent in crim­i­nal jus­tice reform in 2015 would def­i­nite­ly exceed that of pre­vi­ous years.”

    In oth­er words, as the Amer­i­can Bridge report authors say, there is a “shock­ing dis­par­i­ty between the Kochs’ polit­i­cal spend­ing and the com­par­a­tive­ly lit­tle they spend advo­cat­ing for crim­i­nal jus­tice reform.”


    “The Kochs’ crim­i­nal jus­tice hypocrisy goes far beyond their per­son­al vendet­ta against the gov­ern­ment after los­ing the Cor­pus Christie law­suit. That’s because beyond the string of recent com­ments by Hold­en and oth­er Koch-fund­ed polit­i­cal oper­a­tors about the pos­i­tive PR ben­e­fits of their crim­i­nal jus­tice efforts, the Kochs con­tin­ue to sup­port a long line of Repub­li­cans whose poli­cies have wors­ened the sys­tem they now say must be dis­man­tled. That list includes 2016 pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Gov. Scott Walk­er, ex-Glo­ri­da Gov. Jeb Bush and Louisiana Gov. Bob­by Jin­dal. It also includes gov­er­nors Lar­ry Hogan of Mary­land, Susana Mar­tinez of New Mex­i­co, Mike Pence of Indi­ana and Doug Ducey of Ari­zona. All have enlarged or sus­tained their states’ pris­on­er pop­u­la­tions.”
    It’s just like how, for years, MLK donat­ed mas­sive amounts of mon­ey to George Wal­lace and the Dix­iecrats all while lead­ing the civ­il rights strug­gle! That total­ly hap­pened.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 3, 2015, 2:25 pm
  48. It turns out there’s a fun new civics mer­it badge that every­one should be striv­ing to earn. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, you prob­a­bly aren’t going to even know you earned it even if you do. Regard­less, the “Get­ting Tracked By The Koch Broth­ers’ Pri­vate CIA” mer­it badge is the kind of achieve­ment all civic-mind­ed Amer­i­cans should be striv­ing to earn:

    The Koch intel­li­gence agency

    As the bil­lion­aires’ net­work works to reshape U.S. pol­i­tics, it keeps a close eye on the left.

    By Ken­neth P. Vogel

    11/18/15 05:14 AM EST

    The polit­i­cal net­work helmed by Charles and David Koch has qui­et­ly built a secre­tive oper­a­tion that con­ducts sur­veil­lance and intel­li­gence gath­er­ing on its lib­er­al oppo­nents, view­ing it as a key strate­gic tool in its efforts to reshape Amer­i­can pub­lic life.

    The oper­a­tion, which is lit­tle-known even with­in the Koch net­work, gath­ers what Koch insid­ers refer to as “com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence” that is used to try to thwart lib­er­al groups and activists, and to iden­ti­fy poten­tial threats to the expan­sive net­work.

    The com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence team has a staff of 25, includ­ing one for­mer CIA ana­lyst, and oper­ates from one of the non-descript Koch net­work offices clus­tered near the Cour­t­house metro stop in sub­ur­ban Arling­ton, Va. It has pro­vid­ed net­work offi­cials with doc­u­ments detail­ing con­fi­den­tial vot­er-mobi­liza­tion plans by major Demo­c­rat-aligned groups. It also sends reg­u­lar “intel­li­gence brief­ing” emails track­ing the can­vass­ing, phone-bank­ing and vot­er-reg­is­tra­tion efforts of labor unions, envi­ron­men­tal groups and their allies, accord­ing to doc­u­ments reviewed by POLITICO and inter­views with a half-dozen sources with knowl­edge of the group.

    The com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence team has gath­ered on-the-ground intel­li­gence from lib­er­al groups’ can­vass­ing events in an effort to assess the tech­nol­o­gy and tech­niques of field efforts to boost Democ­rats, accord­ing to the sources. And they say the team uti­lizes high-tech tac­tics to track the move­ments of lib­er­al orga­niz­ers, includ­ing culling geo-data embed­ded in their social media posts.

    Such stealth activ­i­ties are the kind that cam­paigns and par­ty oper­a­tives often fan­ta­size about but most­ly shy away from — both because of cost and poten­tial polit­i­cal back­lash if exposed.

    Marc Short, pres­i­dent of Free­dom Part­ners Cham­ber of Com­merce, the network’s cen­tral group, declined to dis­cuss its efforts to track the left, gen­er­al­ly, or to com­ment on the com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence team, which oper­ates as a unit with­in his group. But he did not dis­pute that the effort is a focus for the Koch net­work as it tries to rebound from the dis­ap­point­ment of the 2012 elec­tions and gears up to spend a jaw-drop­ping $889 mil­lion on pol­i­cy and polit­i­cal bat­tles head­ed into Novem­ber 2016.

    “We were caught off guard by what the left was doing in 2012, and we’d be fool­ish to be caught in that posi­tion again,” he told POLITICO.

    The increas­ing­ly robust Koch net­work has seized on sig­nif­i­cant tac­ti­cal advan­tages afford­ed to big-mon­ey inde­pen­dent orga­ni­za­tions — but not par­ty com­mit­tees — in mod­ern pol­i­tics. Unlike par­ty com­mit­tees, which are most­ly sub­ject to five-fig­ure dona­tion lim­its, donor dis­clo­sure and all man­ner of cam­paign finance laws and par­ty rules, the Koch net­work of non-prof­it groups and for-prof­it com­pa­nies can accept unlim­it­ed cash with­out dis­clos­ing donors and faces few spend­ing restric­tions.

    The com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence effort, report­ed here for the first time, also hints at the auda­cious­ness of the Koch network’s mis­sion. While the Repub­li­can Par­ty focus­es on win­ning elec­tions, the Kochs want to realign Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, gov­ern­ment and soci­ety around free enter­prise philoso­phies that they hope to spread more broad­ly.

    A key to accom­plish­ing the mis­sion, from the Kochs’ per­spec­tive, is coun­ter­ing super PACs and oth­er big-mon­ey groups fund­ed by rich lib­er­als, as well as allied pub­lic sec­tor unions and aca­d­e­m­ic and media elites. The Kochs’ allies feel that those forces have worked togeth­er for decades with Demo­c­ra­t­ic politi­cians and gov­ern­ment bureau­crats to insti­tu­tion­al­ize the phi­los­o­phy that heavy reg­u­la­tion and tax­a­tion of busi­ness is the only way to ensure an equi­table soci­ety.

    The Kochs con­clud­ed that defeat­ing this well-fund­ed left-wing infra­struc­ture requires track­ing the pro­fes­sion­al left in real time — a capa­bil­i­ty they real­ized they lacked after the 2012 elec­tion. In the run-up to that elec­tion, the Koch net­work spent $400-mil­lion-plus attack­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic politi­cians and poli­cies, only to see Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma win re-elec­tion and his par­ty main­tain con­trol of the Sen­ate. A foren­sic audit of the network’s efforts con­clud­ed the Kochs had been out-maneu­vered by the left on the air­waves, in the data war and on the ground. Vow­ing not to let that hap­pen again, the net­work began invest­ing in the com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence team and oth­er efforts to keep tabs on the left.

    To be sure, the Kochs’ oper­a­tion isn’t the only one focused on pulling back the cur­tain on its oppo­nents. In fact, lib­er­al activists and groups have fre­quent­ly worked to expose the activ­i­ties of the Koch broth­ers and their net­work. But the com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence team, like so many oth­er Koch-backed pro­grams, appears to be unique in its scale and its thor­ough­ly method­olog­i­cal approach.

    ‘The Oppo­si­tion: Under­stand­ing Their Strat­e­gy and Infra­struc­ture’

    The Koch network’s inter­est in intel­li­gence on the inner work­ings of the left was revealed by a secret audio record­ing of a pan­el at a June 2014 closed-door donor gath­er­ing at the tony St. Reg­is hotel in Dana Point, Calif. The ses­sion, called “The Oppo­si­tion: Under­stand­ing Their Strat­e­gy and Infra­struc­ture,” focused on the group that the Kochs’ inner cir­cle regards as the Roset­ta stone for fig­ur­ing out, and ulti­mate­ly neu­tral­iz­ing, the big-mon­ey left — the Democ­ra­cy Alliance.

    The group, which is meet­ing this week in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., is a club of wealthy lib­er­al donors and influ­en­tial oper­a­tives. Since its cre­ation in 2005, the DA, as the club is known, has steered more than $500 mil­lion to endorsed groups sup­port­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic politi­cians and lib­er­al caus­es like fight­ing car­bon emis­sions, income inequal­i­ty and the role of mon­ey in pol­i­tics, while expand­ing vot­er access, abor­tion rights and gay rights.

    As a fundrais­ing vehi­cle, it’s the clos­est thing on the left to a mir­ror image of the Kochs’ oper­a­tion, though the cash raised by the Koch net­work in recent years has far eclipsed the amount cred­it­ed to the DA. Donors to both net­works write huge and most­ly untrace­able checks to a col­lec­tion of endorsed for-prof­it com­pa­nies and non-prof­it groups reg­is­tered under sec­tions of the tax code — 501©3 and 501©4 — that do not require the dis­clo­sure of donors’ iden­ti­ties.

    Dur­ing the ses­sion at the St. Reg­is, Mark Hold­en, a key Koch legal and pol­i­cy advi­sor, point­ed out the irony in lib­er­al attacks on the Kochs’ secre­tive spend­ing, call­ing the DA “a shad­owy net­work of c(3)s, c(4)s — who don’t dis­close their donors, remem­ber — who attack us as a shad­owy net­work of c(3)s, c(4)s) … What­ev­er they may say about us goes the same for them.”

    But Hold­en told the donors, accord­ing to the audio record­ing, which was obtained and post­ed by a lib­er­al blog­ger, “We’ve been able to learn a lot more details about them in the last cou­ple of months from doc­u­ments that some­one in the group, Democ­ra­cy Alliance, left behind at their last sem­i­nar. And it’s very inter­est­ing stuff. And, at the end of the ses­sions here, we’re going to have some hand­outs, and you’ll be able to see some of the doc­u­ments that we were able to get a hold of.” He adds quick­ly — and to some laugh­ter — “I’m gen­er­al coun­sel and I just want to say it was all legit, legal, appro­pri­ate.”

    As Hold­en dis­cussed the Democ­ra­cy Alliance’s efforts, inter­nal DA doc­u­ments were pro­ject­ed onto a screen at the front of the bronze-chan­de­lier-lit St. Reg­is ball­room, includ­ing a “port­fo­lio snap­shot” fea­tur­ing descrip­tions of 21 groups that the DA rec­om­mend­ed for fund­ing and a break­down of the “core func­tions of the pro­gres­sive move­ment.”

    ‘Like the CIA’

    It is unclear pre­cise­ly which doc­u­ments Hold­en pre­sent­ed to donors (though sim­i­lar doc­u­ments appear to have been pub­lished in the weeks before and after his pre­sen­ta­tion by a hand­ful of media out­lets, includ­ing POLITICO) or pre­cise­ly how the doc­u­ments were obtained.

    Hold­en — who sits on the board of Free­dom Part­ners Cham­ber of Com­merce, which orga­nized the St. Reg­is gath­er­ing and which over­sees the com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence team — declined to com­ment.

    The com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence team is run by a vet­er­an Repub­li­can researcher named Mike Roman, who is list­ed as Free­dom Part­ners’ vice pres­i­dent of research on the tax fil­ing that group pub­licly released on Tues­day. That fil­ing cites Roman’s salary and ben­e­fits at $286,000 last year.

    His team is part of Free­dom Part­ners, but is man­aged through a lim­it­ed lia­bil­i­ty com­pa­ny called Amer­i­can Strate­gies Group LLC, or ASG for short. ASG is set up as a type of cor­po­rate struc­ture known as a “dis­re­gard­ed enti­ty”, which exists only as a part of its par­ent group — in this case Free­dom Part­ners — for the pur­pos­es of mit­i­gat­ing legal risk and sep­a­rat­ing rev­enue streams for account­ing and tax com­pli­ance pur­pos­es.

    ASG was the con­duit for $13.3 mil­lion of Free­dom Part­ners’ cash between late 2012 and the end of last year, accord­ing to tax fil­ings sub­mit­ted to the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice by Free­dom Part­ners, includ­ing the fil­ing pub­licly released on Tues­day cov­er­ing 2014. It shows that ASG con­trols a hold­ing com­pa­ny called CAVHOCO, Inc., which received a cap­i­tal con­tri­bu­tion of $17.5 mil­lion from Free­dom Part­ners last year. CAVHOCO sits at the cen­ter of a con­fus­ing web of dis­re­gard­ed enti­ties and hold­ing com­pa­nies, includ­ing one called Deme­ter Ana­lyt­ics Ser­vices, Inc. That enti­ty, which is the hold­ing com­pa­ny for the Free­dom Part­ners-owned data firm i360, was paid $11 mil­lion by Free­dom Part­ners in 2014 for pro­fes­sion­al ser­vices, accord­ing to the tax return. Sep­a­rate tax returns also list­ed Roman as trustee of a mys­te­ri­ous non-prof­it group called Pub­lic Engage­ment Group Trust, which appears to be dor­mant.

    Roman, who did not respond to requests for com­ment, has worked to keep him­self and his activ­i­ty low-pro­file even with­in the dis­creet Koch oper­a­tion.

    One for­mer net­work offi­cial said that when peo­ple were sum­moned to meet­ings at ASG’s offices, they some­times had trou­ble find­ing the suite. “They told peo­ple that’s the way they liked it,” the offi­cial recalled. “They act all cloak and dag­ger – like the CIA. There was a joke about how hard­ly any­one ever met Mike Roman. It was like, if you want­ed to find him, he’d be in a trench coat on the Nation­al Mall,” said the for­mer offi­cial.


    ‘Scared to death of moles’

    In addi­tion to delv­ing into the left, the com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence team also mon­i­tors poten­tial Koch net­work threats, accord­ing to sources famil­iar with it. It tracks peo­ple deemed sus­pi­cious out­side the offices of Koch net­work groups, cir­cu­lat­ing be-on-the-look­out pho­tos to inter­nal net­work email lists, while keep­ing an eye on the net­work’s own ranks for pos­si­ble leak­ers or dis­loy­al employ­ees.

    One for­mer net­work exec­u­tive remem­bers an email con­tain­ing a pho­to of a man iden­ti­fied as an oper­a­tive with the envi­ron­men­tal group Green­peace who alleged­ly had been spot­ted tak­ing his own pho­tos out­side the network’s clus­ter of offices in the Cour­t­house neigh­bor­hood of Arling­ton.

    Con­nor Gib­son, a Green­peace researcher who focus­es on the Koch net­work, said he vis­its its com­po­nent groups’ offices once a year to pick up their tax fil­ings, and he spec­u­lat­ed he could have been the oper­a­tive pho­tographed by the com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence unit. While he said he’s nev­er sought to con­ceal his iden­ti­ty dur­ing such vis­its, he added “If the Kochs con­sid­er me an oppo­nent, I’m flat­tered.”

    In anoth­er instance, sources say, Roman’s team set out to iden­ti­fy an IT con­trac­tor who was work­ing for one of the net­work’s groups and was post­ing anony­mous mes­sages to Red­dit, pro­claim­ing that he worked for the Koch broth­ers but despised their stances. With­in 48 hours, the team had sleuthed out the offend­er and his con­tract was ter­mi­nat­ed.

    “They were scared to death of moles,” said the for­mer exec­u­tive.

    A sep­a­rate source — an orga­niz­er who’s worked with the unit — described it as “a full oppo­si­tion research oper­a­tion, only at about 10-times the lev­el of any polit­i­cal cam­paign.” The orga­niz­er added “my guess is that most peo­ple inside the net­work don’t even know about it.”

    Koch allies empha­size that the broth­ers and their net­work have been tar­gets of reg­u­lar sleuthing by the left. A non­prof­it group called Amer­i­can Bridge 21st Cen­tu­ry — which is aligned with Hillary Clin­ton and the Democ­ra­cy Alliance — this year launched a $3‑million project ded­i­cat­ed to research­ing, track­ing and attack­ing the Kochs. Its staffers have been spot­ted record­ing the pro­ceed­ings at Koch net­work events and appear­ances by the broth­ers, and it took cred­it for unearthing a trove of doc­u­ments fea­tured in a New York Times New York Times sto­ry about David Koch’s 1980 Lib­er­tar­i­an vice pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. The group does not appear to be behind the untrace­able record­ings made from inside closed-door Koch donor gath­er­ings over the years — like the one of Holden’s dis­sec­tion of the Democ­ra­cy Alliance at the St. Reg­is.

    Hold­en told the donors at the St. Reg­is that the big-mon­ey lib­er­al groups in the Democ­ra­cy Alliance were pur­su­ing a two-pronged strat­e­gy that bears some sim­i­lar­i­ties to the tac­tics of the Koch net­work. “What they do is they try to build a per­ma­nent infra­struc­ture to win elec­tions, and they obsess about us — all of you,” Hold­en said. “And it’s the old quote — first they ignore you, then they mock you, then they attack you, and then we win. We’re close to win­ning. I don’t know how close, but we should be, because they can’t attack the ideas. They don’t have the real path. All they do is tar­get and they just try to silence peo­ple. You know, they’re afraid of us. They real­ly are. They’re afraid of this room.”

    “Con­nor Gib­son, a Green­peace researcher who focus­es on the Koch net­work, said he vis­its its com­po­nent groups’ offices once a year to pick up their tax fil­ings, and he spec­u­lat­ed he could have been the oper­a­tive pho­tographed by the com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence unit. While he said he’s nev­er sought to con­ceal his iden­ti­ty dur­ing such vis­its, he added “If the Kochs con­sid­er me an oppo­nent, I’m flat­tered.””
    It sounds like some­one just earned a mer­it badge!

    And as jaw-drop­ping as a pri­vate polit­i­cal CIA run by two of the biggest pow­er-mon­gers in the world might be, when you read:

    A sep­a­rate source — an orga­niz­er who’s worked with the unit — described it as “a full oppo­si­tion research oper­a­tion, only at about 10-times the lev­el of any polit­i­cal cam­paign.” The orga­niz­er added “my guess is that most peo­ple inside the net­work don’t even know about it.”

    keep in mind that the exis­tence of this par­tic­u­lar Koch pri­vate intel­li­gence oper­a­tion may have been unknown to both the out­side world and maybe even many of the Koch’s own polit­i­cal oper­a­tives, but sto­ries about the Koch’s spy­ing on their oppo­nents are noth­ing new:

    The New York­er
    Do the Kochs Have Their Own Spy Net­work?

    By Jane May­er
    Today 5:15 pm

    Five years ago, when The New York­er pub­lished my piece “Covert Oper­a­tions,” about the ambi­tious and secre­tive polit­i­cal net­work under­writ­ten by the bil­lion­aire indus­tri­al­ists Charles and David Koch, the Koch broth­ers com­plained might­i­ly about the story’s title, protest­ing that there was noth­ing at all covert about their polit­i­cal activ­i­ties. Since then, the two have embarked on an impres­sive pub­lic-rela­tions cam­paign meant to demon­strate their trans­paren­cy and open­ness. But today, the Politi­co reporter Ken­neth Vogel came out with a block­buster scoop sug­gest­ing that the broth­ers, whose orga­ni­za­tion has vowed to spend an unprece­dent­ed eight hun­dred and eighty-nine mil­lion dol­lars in the 2016 elec­tion cycle, are more involved in covert oper­a­tions than even their own part­ners have known.


    While it’s big news that the Kochs are now run­ning their own pri­vate intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing oper­a­tion in order to track polit­i­cal oppo­nents, includ­ing labor unions, envi­ron­men­tal groups, and lib­er­al big-donor groups, it actu­al­ly isn’t sur­pris­ing, giv­en their his­to­ry.

    For decades, there have been reports sug­gest­ing that Charles and David Koch and Koch Indus­tries have employed pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors to gath­er inside infor­ma­tion on their per­ceived ene­mies, includ­ing their own broth­er, Bill Koch, with whom they fought over con­trol of the fam­i­ly busi­ness and for­tune. My forth­com­ing book, “Dark Mon­ey: The Hid­den His­to­ry of the Bil­lion­aires Behind the Rise of the Rad­i­cal Right,” which will come out in Jan­u­ary, builds on ear­li­er report­ing about this, includ­ing my 2010 New York­er piece. In fact, again and again, those who have chal­lenged the Kochs and Koch Industries—whether they are fed­er­al offi­cers, pri­vate cit­i­zens, or mem­bers of the press—have sus­pect­ed that they have been under sur­veil­lance.

    In Daniel Schulman’s deeply researched biog­ra­phy of the Kochs, “Sons of Wichi­ta,” for instance, he describes how Angela O’Connell, the lead fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor in a huge envi­ron­men­tal-pol­lu­tion case brought against Koch Indus­tries in 1995, “began to sus­pect that Koch had placed her under sur­veil­lance. ‘I thought that my trash can was tak­en out­side my house sev­er­al days,’ she recalled. ‘I was upset enough about it at the time to report what I thought was a bug­ging and what I thought was the trash being taken—a num­ber of inci­dents,’ ” Schul­man writes that “the Jus­tice Depart­ment was nev­er able to prove that Koch had tar­get­ed one of its pros­e­cu­tors, but for the first time in her career, O’Connell oper­at­ed as if every­thing she said and did was being mon­i­tored.”

    Schul­man also quotes a lawyer for the plain­tiff in a mas­sive fatal per­son­al-injury case, brought against Koch Indus­tries in 1999, as say­ing that he hired a secu­ri­ty firm to sweep his office after sus­pect­ing that his phones were bugged. The firm, he said, dis­cov­ered elec­tron­ic trans­mit­ters had been plant­ed there. “I’m not say­ing that the Kochs did it,” the lawyer, Ted Lyon, told Schul­man. “I just thought it was very inter­est­ing that it hap­pened dur­ing the time we were lit­i­gat­ing the case.”

    Sim­i­lar­ly, as I report­ed in my New York­er piece, when a Sen­ate com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ed Koch Indus­tries, in 1989, for what its final report called a “wide­spread and sophis­ti­cat­ed scheme to steal crude oil from Indi­ans and oth­ers through fraud­u­lent mis­mea­sur­ing,” the report not­ed that in the course of the probe Koch oper­a­tives had delved into the per­son­al lives of the committee’s staffers, even ques­tion­ing one’s ex-wife.

    Vogel, the Politi­co reporter who broke today’s sto­ry, has had his own run-ins with the Kochs’ hyper-vig­i­lance. In his 2014 book, “Big Mon­ey: 2.5 Bil­lion Dol­lars, One Sus­pi­cious Vehi­cle, and a Pimp—on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijack­ing Amer­i­can Pol­i­tics,” he recounts a strange episode. After Vogel told a Koch offi­cial where he was stay­ing while cov­er­ing one of the bil­lion­aires’ secre­tive semi-annu­al fund-rais­ing events, he received an odd hang-up phone call, although no one else but his wife knew the name of the hotel. Spooked, he decid­ed to leave ear­ly, but as he was dri­ving to the air­port the rental-car agency noti­fied him that some­one had report­ed the car he was dri­ving as “sus­pi­cious or aban­doned.” When he asked Koch Indus­tries offi­cials if they were behind any of this, they assured him they were not. “That’s the thing about the Kochs’ style,” he wrote. They always “keep you won­der­ing.”

    “That’s the thing about the Kochs’ style,” he wrote. They always “keep you won­der­ing.”
    They sure do.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 19, 2015, 2:01 pm
  49. The fact that the Koch dynasty’s ear­ly for­tune was built, in part, on a con­tract to build oil refiner­ies for Stal­in’s Sovi­et Union is no secret. And giv­en the cyn­i­cal behav­ior of the Koch clan it’s not real­ly a sur­prise either. Well, it turns out Jane Mey­er has a new book out on the Kochs that con­tain anoth­er 1930’s secret of that nature. It’s even less sur­pris­ing:

    The New York Times
    Father of Koch Broth­ers Helped Build Nazi Oil Refin­ery, Book Says

    Jan­u­ary 11, 2016

    The father of the bil­lion­aires Charles G. and David H. Koch helped con­struct a major oil refin­ery in Nazi Ger­many that was per­son­al­ly approved by Adolf Hitler, accord­ing to a new his­to­ry of the Kochs and oth­er wealthy fam­i­lies.

    The book, “Dark Mon­ey,” by Jane May­er, traces the rise of the mod­ern con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment through the activism and mon­ey of a hand­ful of rich donors: among them Richard Mel­lon Scaife, an heir to the Mel­lon bank­ing for­tune, and Har­ry and Lyn­de Bradley, broth­ers who became wealthy in part from mil­i­tary con­tracts but poured mil­lions into anti-gov­ern­ment phil­an­thropy.

    But the book is large­ly focused on the Koch fam­i­ly, stretch­ing back to its involve­ment in the far-right John Birch Soci­ety and the polit­i­cal and busi­ness activ­i­ties of the father, Fred C. Koch, who found some of his ear­li­est busi­ness suc­cess over­seas in the years lead­ing up to World War II. One ven­ture was a part­ner­ship with the Amer­i­can Nazi sym­pa­thiz­er William Rhodes Davis, who, accord­ing to Ms. May­er, hired Mr. Koch to help build the third-largest oil refin­ery in the Third Reich, a crit­i­cal indus­tri­al cog in Hitler’s war machine.

    The episode is not men­tioned in an online his­to­ry pub­lished by Koch Indus­tries, the com­pa­ny that Mr. Koch lat­er found­ed and passed on to his sons.

    Ken Spain, a spokesman for Koch Indus­tries, said com­pa­ny offi­cials had declined to par­tic­i­pate in Ms. Mayer’s book and had not yet read it.

    “If the con­tent of the book is reflec­tive of Ms. Mayer’s pre­vi­ous report­ing of the Koch fam­i­ly, Koch Indus­tries or Charles’s and David’s polit­i­cal involve­ment, then we expect to have deep dis­agree­ments and strong objec­tions to her inter­pre­ta­tion of the facts and their sourc­ing,” Mr. Spain said.

    Ms. May­er, a staff writer at The New York­er, presents the Kochs and oth­er fam­i­lies as the hid­den and self-inter­est­ed hands behind the rise and growth of the mod­ern con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment. Phil­an­thropists and polit­i­cal donors who poured hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars into think tanks, polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions and schol­ar­ships, they helped win accep­tance for anti-gov­ern­ment and anti-tax poli­cies that would pro­tect their busi­ness­es and per­son­al for­tunes, she writes, all under the guise of pro­mot­ing the pub­lic inter­est.

    The Kochs, the Scaifes, the Bradleys and the DeVos fam­i­ly of Michi­gan “were among a small, rar­efied group of huge­ly wealthy, arch­con­ser­v­a­tive fam­i­lies that for decades poured mon­ey, often with lit­tle pub­lic dis­clo­sure, into influ­enc­ing how the Amer­i­cans thought and vot­ed,” the book says.

    Many of the fam­i­lies owned busi­ness­es that clashed with envi­ron­men­tal or work­place reg­u­la­tors, come under fed­er­al or state inves­ti­ga­tion, or waged bat­tles over their tax bills with the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice, Ms. May­er reports. The Kochs’ vast polit­i­cal net­work, a major force in Repub­li­can pol­i­tics today, was “orig­i­nal­ly designed as a means of off-load­ing the costs of the Koch Indus­tries envi­ron­men­tal and reg­u­la­to­ry fights onto oth­ers” by per­suad­ing oth­er rich busi­ness own­ers to con­tribute to Koch-con­trolled polit­i­cal groups, Ms. May­er writes, cit­ing an asso­ciate of the two broth­ers.

    Mr. Scaife, who died in 2014, donat­ed upward of a bil­lion dol­lars to con­ser­v­a­tive caus­es, accord­ing to “Dark Mon­ey,” which cites his own unpub­lished mem­oirs. Mr. Scaife was dri­ven in part, Ms. May­er writes, by a tax loop­hole that grant­ed him his inher­i­tance tax free through a trust, so long as the trust donat­ed its net income to char­i­ty for 20 years. “Isn’t it grand how tax law gets writ­ten?” Mr. Scaife wrote.

    In Ms. Mayer’s telling, the Kochs helped bankroll — through a skein of non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions with min­i­mal pub­lic dis­clo­sure — decades of vic­to­ries in state cap­i­tals and in Wash­ing­ton, often leav­ing no fin­ger­prints. She cred­its groups financed by the Kochs and their allies with pro­vid­ing sup­port for the Tea Par­ty move­ment, along with the pub­lic rela­tions strate­gies used to shrink pub­lic sup­port for the Afford­able Care Act and for Pres­i­dent Obama’s pro­pos­als to mit­i­gate cli­mate change.

    The Koch net­work also pro­vid­ed fund­ing to fine-tune bud­get pro­pos­als from Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Paul D. Ryan, such as cuts to Social Secu­ri­ty, so they would be more palat­able to vot­ers, accord­ing to the book. The Kochs were so influ­en­tial among con­ser­v­a­tive law­mak­ers, Ms. May­er reports, that in 2011, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John A. Boehn­er, then the House speak­er, vis­it­ed David Koch to ask for his help in resolv­ing a debt ceil­ing stale­mate.


    “But the book is large­ly focused on the Koch fam­i­ly, stretch­ing back to its involve­ment in the far-right John Birch Soci­ety and the polit­i­cal and busi­ness activ­i­ties of the father, Fred C. Koch, who found some of his ear­li­est busi­ness suc­cess over­seas in the years lead­ing up to World War II. One ven­ture was a part­ner­ship with the Amer­i­can Nazi sym­pa­thiz­er William Rhodes Davis, who, accord­ing to Ms. May­er, hired Mr. Koch to help build the third-largest oil refin­ery in the Third Reich, a crit­i­cal indus­tri­al cog in Hitler’s war machine.
    Well, some­thing need­ed to refine all that oil the Nazis were import­ing. And some­one also had to finance those imports. The Nazis had a lot of needs. And help.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 11, 2016, 9:32 pm
  50. Here’s some­thing to keep in mind with the ongo­ing pres­sure the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is putting on AT&T and Time Warn­er to sell off CNN if their merg­er is to get fed­er­al approval: Remem­ber the Koch broth­ers’ failed attempt to buy Tri­bune Media (own­er of The Chica­go Tri­bune and Los Ange­les)? It looks like the Kochs might get their piece of the media land­scape after all: Time Inc., the pub­lish­er of pub­li­ca­tions like Time, For­tune, Mon­ey and Sports Illus­trat­ed which was spun off from Time Warn­er in 2014, has been repeat­ed­ly pur­sued in the last few years by Mered­ith, pub­lish­er of Fam­i­ly Cir­cle and Bet­ter Homes and Gar­dens. The last round of failed talks end­ed when Mered­ith failed to the secure suf­fi­cient financ­ing from banks. And that, of course, is where the Kochs come in:

    The New York Times

    Koch Broth­ers Said to Back Time Inc. Deal Talks With Mered­ith

    NOV. 15, 2017

    Time Inc. is said to be in talks to sell itself to the Mered­ith Cor­po­ra­tion, in a deal backed by Charles G. and David H. Koch, the bil­lion­aire broth­ers known for sup­port­ing con­ser­v­a­tive caus­es.

    Talks between Time Inc., the pub­lish­er of Time and Peo­ple, and Mered­ith, the pub­lish­er of Fam­i­ly Cir­cle and Bet­ter Homes and Gar­dens, fiz­zled this year. The new round of nego­ti­a­tions, moti­vat­ed by the sur­prise entry of the Kochs, could lead to a quick deal, accord­ing to peo­ple involved in the dis­cus­sions.

    The Kochs have ten­ta­tive­ly agreed to back Meredith’s offer with an equi­ty injec­tion of more than $500 mil­lion, the peo­ple with knowl­edge of the talks said. A spokesman for the broth­ers’ busi­ness, Koch Indus­tries, declined to com­ment on Wednes­day.

    Time Inc. also declined to com­ment. Mered­ith did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment.

    The com­pa­nies have been nego­ti­at­ing over the past sev­er­al days, and Mered­ith is review­ing the lat­est Time Inc. finan­cial infor­ma­tion.

    Although it is unclear whether the pro­posed deal will reach fruition, both sides hope to move quick­ly enough to be able to announce a trans­ac­tion soon after Thanks­giv­ing.

    The talks are part of the third known attempt by Mered­ith to pur­chase Time Inc. In 2013, a deal col­lapsed when the two pub­lish­ers could not agree on which mag­a­zines Mered­ith would buy. At the time, Mered­ith report­ed­ly did not want to acquire four of Time Inc.’s best known titles: Time, For­tune, Mon­ey and Sports Illus­trat­ed.

    Ear­li­er this year, Mered­ith was said to have been among par­ties inter­est­ed in buy­ing Time Inc. Those dis­cus­sions end­ed when Time Inc. said it did not want to sell itself.

    An obsta­cle that stalled nego­ti­a­tions ear­li­er this year was Meredith’s inabil­i­ty to secure suf­fi­cient financ­ing from banks. With the addi­tion of the Kochs, with their deep pock­ets and appar­ent desire to make them­selves play­ers on the media land­scape, that prob­lem could van­ish.

    It is not clear how much influ­ence — if any — the Kochs would have on a Mered­ith-owned Time Inc. if the deal were to go through.

    The dis­cus­sions come dur­ing a chal­leng­ing time for mag­a­zine pub­lish­ers, many of which are try­ing to remake them­selves as mul­ti­me­dia enti­ties. Time Inc. has late­ly shift­ed its focus away from its print mag­a­zines as it seeks to attract a siz­able dig­i­tal audi­ence and pur­sue new oppor­tu­ni­ties for rev­enue growth.

    The lat­est talks between Mered­ith and Time Inc. show the Koch broth­ers’ will­ing­ness to give their media ambi­tions anoth­er shot after they explored pur­chas­ing the Tri­bune Com­pa­ny in 2013.

    Found­ed in 1922 by Hen­ry R. Luce, Time Inc. was at one point among the most influ­en­tial and author­i­ta­tive voic­es in Amer­i­can mag­a­zine pub­lish­ing, with offices over­look­ing Rock­e­feller Cen­ter and Radio City Music Hall. Through Time and Life mag­a­zines, it chron­i­cled the ups and downs of a nation through stel­lar pho­tog­ra­phy and week­ly updates on news, sports and cul­ture.



    “Koch Broth­ers Said to Back Time Inc. Deal Talks With Mered­ith” by SYDNEY EMBER and ANDREW ROSS SORKIN; The New York Times; 11/15/2017

    “An obsta­cle that stalled nego­ti­a­tions ear­li­er this year was Meredith’s inabil­i­ty to secure suf­fi­cient financ­ing from banks. With the addi­tion of the Kochs, with their deep pock­ets and appar­ent desire to make them­selves play­ers on the media land­scape, that prob­lem could van­ish.”

    Yeah, if financ­ing is a prob­lem for the Meredith/Time Inc. merg­er, hav­ing the Kochs enter the pic­ture is going to make that prob­lem go away very fast:

    The Kochs have ten­ta­tive­ly agreed to back Meredith’s offer with an equi­ty injec­tion of more than $500 mil­lion, the peo­ple with knowl­edge of the talks said. A spokesman for the broth­ers’ busi­ness, Koch Indus­tries, declined to com­ment on Wednes­day.

    And instead of Mered­ith’s financ­ing prob­lem, we’re all left with the much larg­er prob­lem of just how much addi­tion­al dam­age can the Kochs’ pro­pa­gan­da machine do to the US and the world with these media acqui­si­tions. As the arti­cle puts it, it’s not clear­ly how much influ­ence, if any, the Kochs will have:

    It is not clear how much influ­ence — if any — the Kochs would have on a Mered­ith-owned Time Inc. if the deal were to go through.

    But let’s keep in mind that buy­ing big media com­pa­nies has­n’t exact­ly been a great way to make mon­ey in recent years. In oth­er words, the Kochs prob­a­bly aren’t con­sid­er­ing inject­ing $500 mil­lion in a Meredith/Time Inc. con­glom­er­ate because it’s an awe­some direct invest­ment. But it is a poten­tial­ly indi­rect­ly prof­itable invest­ment if it can be used as a plat­form for pol­lute minds with Koch-style fas­cist Lib­er­tar­i­an memes.

    So the Kochs are shop­ping for media. It’s some­thing to keep in mind as the AT&T/Time Warn­er merg­er plays out. Espe­cial­ly after the reports the Rupert Mur­doch has twice inquired about buy­ing CNN in the past 6 months. Because if Mur­doch was try­ing to buy CNN, and now we have the White House try­ing to force the sale of CNN, that sug­gests that there’s a con­cert­ed push to put that net­work in far-right hands. Which is the kind of thing that makes the Kochs sud­den rekin­dled inter­ests in the media mar­kets that much more chill­ing:


    Exclu­sive: Rupert Mur­doch twice dis­cussed CNN with AT&T CEO — sources

    Jes­si­ca Toonkel
    Novem­ber 10, 2017 / 2:11 PM

    NEW YORK (Reuters) — Rupert Mur­doch tele­phoned AT&T Inc (T.N) Chief Exec­u­tive Ran­dall Stephen­son twice in the last six months and talked about cable net­work CNN, sources briefed on the mat­ter told Reuters on Fri­day.

    Accord­ing to one of the sources, the 86-year-old exec­u­tive chair­man of Twen­ty-First Cen­tu­ry Fox Inc (FOXA.O) offered to buy CNN in both con­ver­sa­tions.

    Anoth­er source said Mur­doch had “zero inter­est” in own­ing CNN.

    Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Twen­ty-First Cen­tu­ry Fox, AT&T and Time Warn­er, CNN’s par­ent, declined com­ment.

    CNN has become the focal point in antitrust approval of AT&T’s $85.4 bil­lion deal to buy Time Warn­er Inc (TWX.N), hatched in Octo­ber 2016.

    U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice staff have rec­om­mend­ed that AT&T sell either its DirecTV unit or Time Warner’s Turn­er Broad­cast­ing unit — which includes CNN — a gov­ern­ment offi­cial told Reuters on Thurs­day, in order to gain antitrust approval.

    On Thurs­day Stephen­son said he had no inter­est in sell­ing CNN and that he was ready to defend the deal in court if nec­es­sary.

    Accord­ing to one of the sources on Fri­day, Mur­doch called Stephen­son twice, unprompt­ed, on May 16 and Aug. 8 and on both occa­sions asked if CNN was for sale. Stephen­son replied both times that it was not, accord­ing to the source.


    The fate of CNN has broad­er polit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has repeat­ed­ly attacked the net­work for its cov­er­age of his cam­paign and his admin­is­tra­tion, while he has pub­licly praised Murdoch’s Fox News.

    In the run-up to last year’s elec­tion he vowed that as pres­i­dent his Jus­tice Depart­ment would block AT&T’s pur­chase of Time Warn­er. He has not com­ment­ed on the trans­ac­tion since tak­ing office in Jan­u­ary.

    Trump’s com­ments have pro­voked con­cern that he may improp­er­ly influ­ence the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice to block the deal. The White House has said Trump has not spo­ken to the attor­ney gen­er­al about the mat­ter.

    Nev­er­the­less, a group of eight Demo­c­ra­t­ic U.S. sen­a­tors on Fri­day wrote to Makan Del­rahim, head of the Jus­tice Department’s antitrust divi­sion, urg­ing the depart­ment “to oppose any attempt by the White House to inter­fere with antitrust law enforce­ment deci­sions, par­tic­u­lar­ly for polit­i­cal rea­sons.”

    Del­rahim said he had not had any con­tact with the White House or the attor­ney gen­er­al on the mat­ter, speak­ing at an event at the USC Gould School of Law in Los Ange­les lat­er in the day.

    “I’ve got to keep my nose down and be a law enforcer and do what’s good and what I’ve com­mit­ted to doing to the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” said Del­rahim.

    But he appeared to voice doubts about AT&T’s rea­son­ing that the pur­chase of Time Warn­er would not result in a com­pa­ny with too much pow­er because the com­bined com­pa­ny would have to com­pete with pow­er­ful new online rivals such as Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Net­flix Inc (NFLX.O) and Face­book Inc (FB.O).

    Del­rahim referred to a com­ment by for­mer Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan that “the nine most ter­ri­fy­ing words in the Eng­lish lan­guage are: I‘m from the gov­ern­ment and I‘m here to help.”

    “I’d say you should be equal­ly ter­ri­fied when some­one in an incum­bent com­pa­ny, what­ev­er indus­try, comes to you and says I’m here to help you against the evils of Net­flix, Ama­zon, Google and Face­book,” said Del­rahim. “Some of these pro-com­pet­i­tive com­ments and jus­ti­fi­ca­tions remind me of that quote strong­ly.”

    ‘NO SENSE’

    It would not be the first time Mur­doch has attempt­ed to take con­trol of CNN.

    His Twen­ty-First Cen­tu­ry Fox made an $80 bil­lion offer for Time Warn­er in 2014 but aban­doned the plan in the face of Time Warner’s resis­tance. At that time, Fox had planned to divest CNN — which com­petes with Fox News — in order to avoid antitrust issues.

    There is no law against a com­pa­ny own­ing two cable net­works, but there is a Fed­er­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion pro­hi­bi­tion on own­ing two broad­cast net­works. A Fox deal with CNN could also raise antitrust con­cerns because of the mar­ket share that a com­bined com­pa­ny would have among cable news view­ers.

    “I have been called and asked if I would sell CNN by numer­ous peo­ple,” Stephen­son told the New York Times Deal­Book con­fer­ence on Thurs­day. But he added: “Sell­ing CNN makes no sense.”

    Fox has held talks in the last few weeks to sell most of its film and tele­vi­sion assets to Walt Dis­ney Co (DIS.N), CNBC report­ed this week, which would leave the com­pa­ny with its Fox News, sports pro­gram­ming and broad­cast­ing sta­tions..

    Twen­ty-First Cen­tu­ry Fox would sell its stake in Euro­pean satel­lite broad­cast­er Sky Plc (SKYB.L) in a deal with Dis­ney, accord­ing to CNBC’s report. Fox is try­ing to buy the 61 per­cent of Sky it does not already own but the bid is strong­ly opposed by some law­mak­ers and has been sub­ject to lengthy reg­u­la­to­ry scruti­ny.



    “Exclu­sive: Rupert Mur­doch twice dis­cussed CNN with AT&T CEO — sources” by Jes­si­ca Toonkel; Reuters; 11/10/2017

    Accord­ing to one of the sources on Fri­day, Mur­doch called Stephen­son twice, unprompt­ed, on May 16 and Aug. 8 and on both occa­sions asked if CNN was for sale. Stephen­son replied both times that it was not, accord­ing to the source.”

    Ok, so if that source for the arti­cle is cor­rect we know Rupert Mur­doch has a real inter­est in CNN. And we also know the White House appears to be try­ing to force the sale of CNN as the price of the merg­er. But we also know that Mur­doch buy­ing CNN could eas­i­ly become a major con­tro­ver­sy because he already owns Fox and that will look hor­ri­ble. And that’s part of why it’s so unset­tling to see that the Koch broth­ers are sud­den­ly inter­est­ed in major media invest­ments. It just hap­pens to be at the moment Time Warn­er is get­ting squeezed into sell­ing CNN.

    And note how there does­n’t appear to be a law out­right pro­hibit­ing the own­er­ship of Fox News and CNN, so it’s pos­si­ble Rupert Mur­doch real­ly could end up own­ing CNN:

    There is no law against a com­pa­ny own­ing two cable net­works, but there is a Fed­er­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion pro­hi­bi­tion on own­ing two broad­cast net­works. A Fox deal with CNN could also raise antitrust con­cerns because of the mar­ket share that a com­bined com­pa­ny would have among cable news view­ers.

    It begs the trag­ic ques­tion: what’s worse, Rupert Mur­doch buy­ing CNN or the Kochs? And if your response is, “the Kochs, because I’ve seen Fox News and noth­ing could be worse than that,” don’t for­get that the Kochs actu­al­ly helped start Rea­son Mag­a­zine back in 1968 by financ­ing the foun­da­tion of the the Rea­son Foun­da­tion, so we do have some media-own­er­ship in Rea­son Mag­a­zine to look over to get a sense of who would be a worse CNN own­er. So Mur­doch or the the Kochs? Which is worse? Yes, Fox News is a pro­mot­er of hate and dis­in­for­ma­tion, and yet the answer isn’t obvi­ous.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 15, 2017, 11:37 pm

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