Koch's suckers

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NYT's Frank Rich exposes "The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea [Baggers'] Party" notes that "There's just one element missing from these snapshots of America's ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it." Jane Mayer's exposé of the Koch brothers and their Teabagger Astroturf efforts in the New Yorker is a must-read explanation of these sibling sugar daddies (not quite unknown, but relatively obscure). Mayer opens with a vignette of David Koch at a black-tie gala, observing that "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. [...] 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.

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. [...] 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.

Their father Fred was a founding member of the rabidly anti-communist John Birch Society, and the sons became activists as well. Mayer was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air, noting that "in the past 30 years, they've funneled more than $100 million into dozens of political organizations." As noted in the article, Koch funding got the libertarian Cato Institute off the ground, and their current front groups [Citizens for a Sound Economy, now known as FreedomWorks; Americans for Prosperity; the anti-healthcare-reform Patients United Now] are mainstays of the Teabagger movement. This passage is an example of ideological blindness at its most ironic:

An advertisement cast the event [a Teabagger training session in Texas] 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.

ThinkProgress notes that the Koch brothers are not unique, as conservative groups plan to spend $400 million on the midterm elections. The results of the 2006 and 2008 elections were disliked by various segments of the plutocratic oligarchy, and they're using the Citizens United one-dollar-one-vote maxim to regain control. Americans for Prosperity (one of the Koch front groups) is being sued for violation of non-profit electioneering laws, although the article notes that complaints about tax-code violations "are not uncommon" because "the line between overt political campaigning and 'voter education' under the law is notoriously fuzzy."

Fuzzy...just like Astroturf.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on August 30, 2010 10:38 PM.

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