Heard about those Koch Brothers?

 

A rather random, very incomplete,  somewhat annotated bibliography of recent articles re: the Koch Brothers

All available on line; many only on line –

Some concentrate on their influence on Wisconsin  & Walker in particular; others more general.

If you already know all you want to know, just skip to the end for a piece of the Koch’s idea of freedom,  in the tradition of great satirists protesting unfairness and inhumane policies

First, just out: a video, on YouTube: What do Walmart, FOX News, and Koch Brothers have in common?

“This important eight part video series exposes the Koch Brothers’ control over your job, your life, and your well-being.”     Due to computer probs, I have not seen this, but I highly recommend it anyway, as it is made a top-notch documentary film maker, Robert Greenwald.  He made Outfoxed, Iraq for Sale, Rethinking Afghanistan.   Try this link:  http://kochbrothersexposed.com/

Second, in case you missed this part: it was David Koch that the “prank” caller identified himself as being in the infamous 20-minute call with Scott Walker a couple of weeks ago by now.  If you have not heard the whole call, you can listen to it on line; there is also a transcript of it.  It is very revealing of SW’s attitudes on a number of issues, including the people that he considers – and doesn’t – in his actions, his vision of himself as the reincarnation of Reagan, and his plan to use layoffs as a political manipulation.  It is the one that was deeply troubling to both the mayor and chief of police in Madison,  in that he admits considering planting trouble-makers in the crowds of peaceful protestors, but refrained out of fear that it would backfire. 

You can listen to it, if you missed it, on YouTube, at  http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/02/scott-walker-koch-brother-crank-call-wisconsin?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Motherjones%2Fmojoblog+%28MotherJones.com+%7C+MoJoBlog%29

Or if you “do” Facebook, go to the page Call to End Media Blackout of Wisconsin Protests; on the left hand side are a list, it’s under videos.  (You may have to “like” the page by clicking on that to see, I’m new to this so not sure.) 

BEST:   A great article that goes over what was said and why it is so problematic is from the Center for Media and Democracy,

http://www.prwatch.org/news/2011/02/10094/koch-brothers-prank-no-laughing-matter

Third,  you can look up all the companies owned by the Koch bros. at www.kochind.com & take that with you on your next shopping trip. Carry a list of what to buy & what NOT to.

Now onto reading material:

  1. Best overall article:  “Covert Operations” by Jane Mayer.  The New Yorker, August 30, 2010.   Pp. 44-55.  Highly recommended.  I have the actual magazine and would Xerox and mail a copy if you don’t want to read it on line; will try to include link here.

 A few key points, don’t take the place of the article:

  • Koch Industries annual revenue:  c. $100,000 Billion; 2nd-largest private co. in the US, after Cargill.   Together the brothers are worth 35 billion, 3rd only to Bill Gates & Warren Buffett.
  • Opposed to environmental regulations of any kind. Far right, radical libertarian economics, with low taxes, very few govt services or regulation; funds “non-profits” to promote these ideas, which in turn tend to policies that will increase their own profits.
  • One former friend said of Charles:  “Perhaps he has confused making money with freedom.”
  • Chas. Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, re their influence in US politics:  “There’s no one else who has spent this much money… 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.”
  • Founded the Americans for Prosperity group in 2004 – works with “tea party” groups, “educating” them.
  • Article traces history of their extreme right-wing  “libertarian” ideas, characterized back in 1980 by William F. Buckley as “Anarcho-totalitarianism”.
  • View politicians as “actors playing out a script” according to one book; they want to write the scripts…
  • David Koch gave (at least) a million dollars in 2010 to Republican Governors Association.
  • DK has said:  “if we’re going to give a lot of money, we’ll make darn sure they spend it in a way that goes along with our intent.” 
  • Are so out of touch with scientists re: climate change, DK quoted in New York magazine as thinking it will be beneficial.  [tell that to the people in areas of Africa, now drying up, to the polar bears…] 
  • Justice Dept suit in the 90s charged Koch Ind. as responsible for over 300 oil spills, releasing about 3 million gallons of oil into lakes and rivers.

 

By the way, the cover of this edition of the NYrkr shows a man in a swimsuit, sitting on a deck chair on a beach by himself.  He is holding up a giant remote-control unit, aimed at the ocean.  We all need to keep this image in mind – of some totally out of touch guy, with grandiose schemes…that can’t work.                                                                                                                                                                             

We are the ocean, Wisconsin.  They may have money, and think they can control us that way…but they will be proved wrong.

 

  1. If you care about the environment, about pollution: be aware that Koch Bros. are among worst  polluters in the country- — one of top 10 air polluters in the US.

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/2/24/billionaire_conservative_koch_brothers_fund_wisconsin

This has explanation of Koch bros as top polluters & list of products

   http://inspirationgreen.com/koch-brothers-products.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/30/greenpeace-protests-koch-brothers-rally

Efforts by the Kochs have been key in the climate science “denial” effort, which has resulted in the 20 point decline about global warming here in the US over the past few years while the actual problem has become increasingly alarming to scientists…

  1. Still think the corporate media bring you truly helpful info?  http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/02/koch-brothers-media-beck-greenpeace

The Koch Brothers’ Vast Right-Wing Media Conspiracy

Photo courtesy Greenpeace

Watched any conservative programs lately? Chances are, you’ve seen an oil-funded pundit.

— By Kate Sheppard

Or go to ANY of the alternative news sources cited in my list, and you’ll find info you will not see discussed on corporate tv, or in a lot of the print media either.  Or, look up FAIR, or prwatch.org.

  1.   Know anyone with cancer?  Lost someone you care about to cancer?

“The conservative billionaire protests federal research cuts—but he’s funding the GOP lawmakers who want to gut the National Institutes of Health.”

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/03/david-koch-cancer-research-gop-nih

This two-sidedness also referred to in Jane Mayer’s article:  that while DK publically fights vs. cancer, Koch Ind. Lobbies to prevent formaldehyde, which it produces, as being classified as a “known carcinogen”.

  1.  How they operate, their great influence over the GOP now, nationally:

 

How Koch Industries Makes Billions Corrupting Government

By Leo Fang for Think Progress—

Selections from this article:

As ThinkProgress has carefully documented over the last three years, Koch groups have spent tens of millions to influence government policy — from financing the Tea Parties, to funding junk academic studies, to undisclosed attack ads against Democrats, to groups promoting climate change denial, to a large network of state-based and national think tanks.

The history of their family fortune:  Fred Koch, the founder of the company and father of David and Charles, helped construct fifteen oil refineries for Joseph Stalin before expanding the business in the United States.

As Yasha Levine has reported, Koch exploits a number of government programs for profit. For instance, Georgia Pacific, a timber company subsidiary of Koch Industries, uses taxpayer money provided by the U.S. Forestry Service to provide their loggers with taxpayer-funded roads and access to virgin growth forests. “Logging companies such as Georgia-Pacific strip lands bare, destroy vast acreages and pay only a small fee to the federal government in proportion to what they take from the public,” according to the Institute for Public Accuracy.

[is this what we want in Wisconsin forests?…for them to be sold off to the top polluters in the country at fire-sale prices, when there isn’t even a fire?  one commenter on some blog I read sometime in the past few weeks referred to a lot of other natural resources especially in the NW area of the state that the Koch bros likely would like to get their hands on].

Koch bros…won massive government contracts using their close relationship with the Bush administration.

Koch’s financing of front groups and political organizations all have one thing in common: every single Koch group attacks workers’ rijghts, promotes deregulation, and argues for radical supply side economics.

Not only do the Kochs’ front groups pad Koch Industries’ bottom line, they supply the Koch brother’s talking points. In fact, for his opinion piece, Charles heavily relied on front groups he finances for statistics. The “freedom index” cited by Charles is a creation of the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation, and the erroneous “unfunded liabilities” claim was supplied by the Koch-funded National Center for Policy Analysis.

Here’s the link:

http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/150106/how_koch_industries_makes_billions_corrupting_government/

 

  1.  Some specific short articles – from way back in February…about the Koch bros and their plans for Wisconsin –  not yours or mine, I would wager

a.      Re: the energy giveaway;  Koch Denies Interest in No-Bid Deals; Opens New Lobby Shop

 http://www.prwatch.org/news/2011/02/10080/koch-denies-interest-no-bid-deals-opens-new-lobby-shop

  1. from Feb. 21, truthout.org
    The Oily Money Behind Scott Walker’s Assault on Unions | News & Politics

 “Walker will pay his first dividend on the Koch-subsidized investment in his campaign with a death knell for unions and for the right of workers to organize”   

Good on the way Koch-funded groups gets air time and the spin they use.

“The question is whether an actual majority of Wisconsin citizens want two of the richest men in the world, who do not live here — and who, as Lee Fang has pointed out, have eliminated jobs in this state — to be playing such an influential role in the rights of working people here.”

 

  1. Vital Signs: Media homes in on Koch brothers and Walker’s proposal to sell state energy plants

From the Cap Times  ==   http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_f3c998a8-3ebd-11e0-9ce0-001cc4c002e0.html

I am including a lot of this article because it has embedded links to a number of other pieces by various writers:.  

…   Now a third piece of the 144-page bill is making headlines — a power grab some critics believe could be political payback to the conservative Koch brothers.

The bill allows the Walker administration, without approval of the Public Service Commission and without a competitive bidding process, to sell off or lease the state’s several dozen energy plants to private companies.

The state can sell the energy plants “with or without the solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state,” according to the rather circular wording of this clause, which then concludes that “any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest.”   [I referred to this in an email]

This is not new news — shortly after the release of the bill, the Wisconsin State Journal published an article about the measure, and so did the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other state media.

What’s different is that now, thanks in part to the delay caused by Democratic state senators fleeing the state to stall the measure, people are starting to connect some dots.

Two of Walker’s biggest backers are the secretive conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries, the largest privately owned company in the U.S. with 70,000 employees and annual sales of $100 billion in the fiscal year 2008. Among their holdings in Wisconsin are significant lumber and coal interests, a network of gasoline supply terminals, and a toilet paper factory.

The Koch brothers’ political action committee gave Walker $43,000, his campaign’s second highest donation, and helped to fund a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against his opponent, according to pieces in Mother Jones and other publications. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett lost by five points.

And then this bill comes out and opens the door to the privatization of the state’s power plants.

Adding to this interesting political snarl is the fact that the guy Walker put in charge of the office that will oversee these potential power plant sales — though some people worry they will be more of giveaways than sales — is Jeff Plale. Remember him? He is one of the two Democratic senators who at the very last minute defected from the Democratic ranks to vote against state employee contracts last fall.

Around a month later, Walker handed the former South Milwaukee Democratic legislator the $90,000 post as the administrator of the Department of Administration’s Division of Facilities. And now he is busy defending the administration’s move to sell off the state’s power plants as no big deal.

Sound fishy? A lot of people think so.

“Here you have a situation where extremely wealthy interests help propel Walker into office, and one of the first things he does is to privatize electricity in this state and to do so with the removal of public oversights and checks and no bidding,” says Lisa Graves with the Center for Media and Democracy. “There should be red flags going up all over the place.”

At RortyBomb, Mike Konczal writes that “the attempt to break labor is part of the same continuous motion as saying that the crony, corporatist selling of state utilities to the Koch brothers and other energy interests is the new ‘public interest.'”

And yet another liberal blogger, Joan McCarter at Daily Kos, claims in a Monday post she calls, “The other part of the Scott Walker plan: Firesale of Wisconsin state assets,” that Walker’s budget and intention goes “well beyond” rolling back union rights. “He’s selling the state to the highest bidder (or more like it, the largest campaign contributor, since bids won’t be required for the acquisition of state assets). The new slogan: What’s good for the Koch brothers is good for Wisconsin.” 

[pargraph on a Koch guy denying they are interested…]

So then why did they beef up their lobbying operation and move into stylish headquarters just off the Capitol Square, as reported by Judith Davidoff here at The Capital Times?

The Koch brothers may be interested in a very different kind of power than that provided by coal plants.

Tim Phillips, the president of the Koch-funded conservative tea party group, Americans for Prosperity, says he was encouraging Walker to provoke a labor showdown even before the governor took office, according to Eric Lipton’s Monday story in the New York Times, “Billionaire Brothers’ Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute.”

The Koch brothers’ agenda might be more straightforward than most people suspect, writes Andrew Leonard in Salon in “The Koch brothers as Wisconsin puppet masters.” “I think we should be careful in making the claim that the Walker bill is paving the way for Koch industries to buy Wisconsin state assets, because it is not at all clear that the Kochs are in the market for those specific assets,” he says. “Koch industries owns a subsidiary in Wisconsin that delivers coal to power plants. Maybe a privatized power industry will steer more power to the Kochs. But I don’t think we have to work so hard to connect the dots between the Koch brothers and Walker. The Kochs have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into election campaigns all over the country in support of a comprehensive political agenda pushing privatization and deregulation and opposing action on climate change. Their support of Walker fits that agenda to a a tee…(party.)”                        c. 2011

  1. Also re: the national level:

Koch brothers now at heart of GOP power

The billionaire brothers’ influence is most visible in the makeup of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where members have vowed to undo restrictions on greenhouse gases.

February 06, 2011|By Tom Hamburger, Kathleen Hennessey and Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times

Link: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/06/nation/la-na-koch-brothers-20110206

Here are excerpts:

Reporting from Washington — The billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch no longer sit outside Washington’s political establishment, isolated by their uncompromising conservatism. Instead, they are now at the center of Republican power, a change most evident in the new makeup of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Wichita-based Koch Industries and its employees formed the largest single oil and gas donor to members of the panel, ahead of giants like Exxon Mobil, contributing $279,500 to 22 of the committee’s 31 Republicans, and $32,000 to five Democrats.

Nine of the 12 new Republicans on the panel signed a pledge distributed by a Koch-founded advocacy group — Americans for Prosperity — to oppose the Obama administration’s proposal to regulate greenhouse gases. Of the six GOP freshman lawmakers on the panel, five benefited from the group’s separate advertising and grass-roots activity during the 2010 campaign.

Claiming an electoral mandate, Republicans on the committee have launched an agenda of the sort long backed by the Koch brothers. A top early goal: restricting the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the Kochs’ core energy businesses.

…Americans for Prosperity is the political arm of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which David Koch co-founded in the 1980s ……Americans for Prosperity kept a strong emphasis on promoting its views on climate change and energy regulation. In 2008, it began circulating a pledge asking politicians to denounce a Democratic-led effort to compel oil refineries and utilities to clean up emissions of greenhouse gases through a so-called cap-and-trade system. The organization said it amounted to a hidden tax increase.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA had the power to regulate greenhouse gases as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Pompeo, Griffith and others want to strip the EPA of that authority.…

The change on the committee is “like night and day,” said Jeremy Symons, senior vice president of the National Wildlife Federation, a nonpartisan organization that lobbied the committee to stem greenhouse gas emissions.

In the past the committee majority viewed the Clean Air Act as an effective way to protect the public,” Symons said. “Now the committee treats the Clean Air Act and the EPA as if they are the enemy. Voters didn’t ask for this pro-polluter agenda, but the Koch brothers spent their money well and their presence can be felt.

 Summing Up

In last Aug 30 New Yorker article on the Kochs, it seemed clear that the Kochs’ idea of freedom was limited to the freedom to make money for themselves; that any freedoms guaranteed for the rest of us by the Bill of Rights were not on their minds.  Here is a great blog, running with that idea.

http://manurelagoon.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/freedom-a-koch-ish-creed-on-behalf-of-americans-for-limiting-prosperity-to-a-select-few/

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One Response to Heard about those Koch Brothers?

  1. Thanks for giving props to my blog…This is a great idea to concentrate as much info on these guys as possible. Will follow you.

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