Thursday, September 02, 2010

Meet the GOP/Tea Party Billionaire Puppet Masters

The Koch brothers. A work in bloated and unbridled greed.

And anarchist wannabees.

I betcha that except for GOP minority leaders and Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and FOX Fake News, most members of the Republican tea party wing has no clue that it has major billionaire exploiters, puppeteers and ventriloquists that pull its strings, yank its chains and grows "frogs" called GOP/tea party political candidates. The frogs, according to Koch/BP/FOX/GOP spokesmen are spawned in order to serve and rubber stamp the private agenda of Koch Industries, BP and other corporate power houses.

Many of us have expected as much from the extreme far right given former U.S. House Speaker and lobbyist Dick Armey and his involvement with the rage fests of last summer over health care reform. Richard Scott and his Conservatives for Patients' Rights movement joined forces with Armey, all in a effort to foment fear and uncertainty about health care reform. Fat cats and pimped out shills for the health care industry, Armey and Scott threw the health care needs of the majority of the American people into the pits of denial and poverty.

But Dick Armey and Richard Scott are nano size potato players when compared to the far reaching tentacles of the power, money and influence of the Koch brothers of Koch Industries.

The two libertarians have poured millions of dollars into the tea party movement, along with other right wing extremist groups that have declared war on President Obama and the Democrats agenda.

Of course the billionaires club has an aversion to the Democratic Party (except for blue dogs, perhaps) because Democratic lawmakers are far more likely, for the most part, to stand up to big business and actually represent the interests and needs of their constituents. The GOP, on the other hand, is one big and proud shill for the likes of the Koch brothers. In fact, Republicans are so far removed from every day people that they are not in the least bit embarrassed by their unabashed role as go to pimps and shills for the corporate sector.

The Koch boys, like Armey and Scott, use the tea party people to do their heavy lifting. Of course the tea party folks don't know that the Koch brothers, who until now have managed to hide behind curtains while launching their cowardly stealth attacks, don't give a flip about the teabaggers themselves. The billionaire brothers are only interested in protecting their cash cow that never stops giving. To them.

Fast forward to summer, 2010.

Jane Mayer, a reporter for the New Yorker magazine, recently wrote a detailed expose about the Koch Brothers and their behind the scenes involvement with political action groups.

Billionaires vs. Obama

Meet the Let Them Eat Cake Kochtopus Brothers, the controllers in chief of the GOP/Tea Party.

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 public life the Koch brothers promote themselves as generous philanthropists who donate millions upon millions of dollars to museums, the arts and cancer research centers. I doubt that few of the recipients of the Koch boys generous contributions are aware of their benefactor's stealth attack campaign against democratic principles and a democratic republic called the U.S.A.

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.

The pervasive tentacles of Kochtopus run far and deep.

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.”

Kochtopus messes with Texas. Big time.

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 channelled “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.”

Kochtopus training program on how to fool, manipulate and control the GOP/teabagging fringe and grow frog candidates.

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!

If you chose death, nut job, make it your own, thank you.

Koch's front group, Americans for Prosperity is shilling for Koch Industries. It has the money and resources to turn the Koch's private agenda into a mass movement.

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.”

The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power.” The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”

A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!”

I hate to break it to the Republican consultant but his movement's frog candidates are too extreme for the average American voters. The frogs must include Republican candidates such as Sharron Angle (NV), Rand Paul (KY) and Ben Quayle (AZ). Well, it is at least nice to know for certain that the frog candidates are total shills for Koch Industries. Now voters can know that a vote for a teabagger is a vote for the Koch boys.

The Koch boys like to keep their political evil doing underground, but I think they've been duly outed now. Thank you Jane Mayer and thank you Rachel Maddow.

The GOP/teabaggers also should know that the Koch boys own Stalin a debt of gratitude for their great fortune.

Oddly enough, the fiercely capitalist Koch family owes part of its fortune to Joseph Stalin. Fred Koch was the son of a Dutch printer who settled in Texas and ran a weekly newspaper. Fred attended M.I.T., where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. In 1927, he invented a more efficient process for converting oil into gasoline, but, according to family lore, America’s major oil companies regarded him as a threat and shut him out of the industry. Unable to succeed at home, Koch found work in the Soviet Union. In the nineteen-thirties, his company trained Bolshevik engineers and helped Stalin’s regime set up fifteen modern oil refineries. Over time, however, Stalin brutally purged several of Koch’s Soviet colleagues. Koch was deeply affected by the experience, and regretted his collaboration. He returned to the U.S. In the headquarters of his company, Rock Island Oil & Refining, in Wichita, he kept photographs aimed at proving that some of those Soviet refineries had been destroyed in the Second World War. Gus diZerega, a former friend of Charles Koch, recalled, “As the Soviets became a stronger military power, Fred felt a certain amount of guilt at having helped build them up. I think it bothered him a lot.”

Fred felt so badly about enabling the Soviets that he joined a hate group, the John Birch Society. I guess he had to find someone else to demonize.

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.”

Pathological and dangerous paranoia.

What is it about Republicans that most are paranoid about everything most of the time? It seems that the GOP has a constant and steady need of a stream of targets of blame, witch hunts and crusades.

Perhaps it has occurred to some Republican politicians that they are the evil doers they fear the most.

The George W. Bush era in a nutshell.