2011/03/28

The Koch brothers


The first and best resource I've seen on the Koch brothers is this New Yorker piece by Jane Mayer (Extensive at 22 printed pages or 67 kilobytes). Some very important items that come across here are that there's an amazing coincidence between what's good for the brother's corporate enterprises financially and between what they espouse as philosophies. There's simply no daylight between what they consider good as a theoretical, philosophical matter and between what profits them by aiding and assisting their companies. Second, we really don't know what exactly they run as ideological assistance to the right wing. They make it a practice to do much of what they do “under the radar.”

There's an excellent pro-Koch piece put out by the Weekly Standard. Of course, it tries to make them out as gee-whiz type guys who just sincerely believe in what they're doing and golly-gee willikers, they're just so full of patriotism and good intentions that wow, how can anybody have anything against them?

As Glenn Greenwald points out, there's a very revealing passage in the Weekly Standard piece:

A left-wing blogger ambushed David when he traveled to Washington to see the 112th Congress sworn in. The liberal group Common Cause organized a protest at the most recent Koch fundraising seminar in Palm Springs. The lefties outside the hotel unfurled a white banner with the words "Koch Kills" printed in red. Drops of blood fell from each letter.

Believe it or not, David Koch didn't only find this noteworthy (Greenwald himself considered the protest thoroughly routine), it elicited the following reaction from him:

"These people were very, very extreme," David said, "and I think very dangerous" . . . "But that was pretty shocking, to see what we’re up against, or what the country’s up against: to have an element like this."

Whoa! Pretty sensitive guy, there! And he wants to be politically active, eh? Jennifer Rubin in The WaPo comes to the Koch's defense:

Left unsaid in all of this is the degree to which the Kochs’ political giving has been exaggerated. How much do they give? Over the last 20 years, about $11 million.

As the New Yorker piece makes clear though, this is only the very tip of the iceberg. The $11 million figure only counts money given as declared contributions that are given directly to politicians. It doesn't count any of the money that's gone into Americans for Prosperity, a group that heavily subsidized the Tea Party and bussed in members to town hall protests all over the country in the summer of 2009 to fight the Affordable Care Act. Greenwald estimates that their expenditures are in the “hundreds of millions.” As he says:

But the Koch brothers go far beyond mere writing about political issues. They single-handedly fund advocacy groups and covert campaigns on a wide variety of highly controversial issues that adversely impact huge numbers of people.

Rubin also claims the Kochs don't support the two wars over in the Mideast, Iraq and Afghanistan. As far as I could tell, that's true, I didn't run across any info on them and overseas interventions. Not every rich person supports all aspects of right-wing/Republican policies.

A blogger from Crooks & Liars concludes that the Kochs really have no idea what they're talking about when they evangelize about how wonderful the free market is. The free market is nowhere near as good to the bottom 99% of the wage ladder as it is to the top 1%. Those in that very top percentage point are extremely privileged to not have to suffer much of any of what the rest of us put up with all the time.

What do the Kochs and their buddies have to do with the extended battle over unions in Wisconsin? Everything! The Kochs and their privileges have far too much influence on US politics and need to be restrained so that the rest of us can get by.

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