The Two Faces of Koch Industries

They support Evil Policies Nationwide.  They are International Enemies of Freedom and Traitors to American Values.  We believe They are The Anti-Christ.

The Following Right Wing Individuals and Groups have made statements and performed activities which by some standards indicate actions detrimental to the United States of America. Click on each Name for The Truth....

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KOCH BROTHERS

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Question:  "Separation between Church and State."  Who coined the Phrase?  Give up?  Answer:   Thomas Jefferson - one of the founding fathers of this great Nation and a creator of the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment to that same Constitution.  Thomas Jefferson, in 1802, wrote a Letter to the Dansbury Baptist Convention, referring to the First Amendment to the US Constitution.  In it he said:

"Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."


CONTENTS

How the Koch Brothers Are Trying to end Desegregation in North Carolina Schools

The Road To Hell. Privatization and the Koch Plan

Koch Brothers Driving Up The Cost Of Gas to Harm Obama

You Thought the Koch Brothers Were Bad?

How the Koch Brothers Indoctrinate Their Employees with Right-Wing Anti-Worker Propaganda

Wall Street Journal Honcho Shills for Secret Worker 'Education' Program Linked to Koch Group

Watch: Attack of the Kochtopus! [Cartoon]

By Funding the Tea Party the Koch Brothers are No Longer Anonymous!

The Koch brothers: They Buy Influence!

George Soros vs Koch Brothers

How Koch Industries Makes Billions Corrupting Government and Polluting for Free

Greenpeace Unmasks Koch Industries' Funding of Climate Denial Industry

Hackers Vs. Billionaires: Anonymous Takes Down Koch-Supported Websites Amid Wisconsin Protests

The Brothers Koch and the Battle of Wisconsin

Koch Brothers Behind Wisconsin Effort To Kill Public Unions

Protesters Target Koch Brothers’ Secretive ‘Billionaires Caucus’

Wanted: The Koch Brothers - Polluters and Climate Criminals


Excerpt from on article on Mother Jones by Gavin Aronsen on September 6, 2011

$1 Million Donation to the Kochs? Meet the Wealthy Right-Wingers Helping Fund the Brothers' Agenda

In a speech recorded at the secretive Koch gathering, Charles Koch thanks donors who gave more than $1 million to the cause. Here's who they are.

Read Mother Jones' inside account of the Koch brothers' Vail seminar, and listen to the exclusive audio.

Twice a year, the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch host secretive retreats for an exclusive list of corporate America's rich and powerful to strategize and raise money for their right-wing political agenda. Mother Jones has obtained exclusive audio recordings that shed some light on the brothers' latest retreat, held at a resort near Vail, Colorado, in late June.

In a speech that is part of these recordings, Charles Koch thanks donors who gave more than $1 million to the cause. We checked the audio against a list of participants at the Kochs' 2010 seminar in Aspen that was obtained by ThinkProgress.org and did additional research on these individuals. Below are the names Koch read that appeared on the previous guest list.

John Childs: Childs is the founder and CEO of private equity firm JW Childs Associates. In 2006, Boston Magazine placed the "notoriously media-shy" magnate—a.k.a. "the Republican ATM"—among the city's wealthiest residents, reportedly worth $1.2 billion. Childs donated $750,000 to outside political expenditure groups in 2010. He's also been involved in Floridawetlands conservation efforts.

The Cortopassis: Dean "Dino" Cortopassi and his wife, Joan, hail from Stockton, California. This article, which identifies the pair as philanthroposts, calls Dino a "wealthy self-made agribusinessman who is Stocktonian of the Year for 2005." He is suing the state of California for its failure to dredge streams in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Joe Craft: Joseph Craft is president, CEO, and chairman of Alliance Resource Partners, a coal company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that gave $2.4 million to outside political expenditure groups in 2010. His family is reportedly worth $1.9 billion.

The DeVoses: Rich and Helen DeVos hail from Michigan. The cofounder of Amway and owner of the NBA's Orlando Magic, Rich DeVos is reportedly worth in the ballpark of $4.2 billion. The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation funds conservative Christian groups such as Focus on the Family. The DeVoses are big enough political donors to have their own profile at OpenSecrets.org.

The Farmers: Dick Farmer is from Ohio. The founder and former CEO of the Cintas Corporation, his story is literally rags-to-riches: He turned his father's Depression-era rag-cleaning business into a $3.5 billion enterprise. Farmer and his wife, Joyce, are longtime Republican boosters; during the 2002 election cycle the couple gave about $1 million to the party.

The Friesses: Foster Friess founded the investment firm Friess Associates in 1974 with his wife, Lynn; in 2001, he sold a majority share for $247 million. Friess is a champion of conservative Christian causes and one of Wyoming's richest men. His son, Steve Friess, helps him run the family's philanthropic foundation. (Steve's wife, Polly, was also on the list of Aspen Koch participants.)

The Fullinwiders: Jerry and Leah Fullinwider hail from Dallas. Jerry has pursued oil exploration and development in the United States, Canada, and Russia. He now serves under Ross Perot's son as vice chairman of Hillwood International Energy, which has operations in Iraq and Jordan as well as the United States and Russia. He also has ties to Hilarion Alfeyev, an anti-abortion Russian Orthodox bishop.

The Gilliams: Richard Gilliam and wife, Leslie, are natives of southwest Virginia. Richard founded the Cumberland Resources Corporation, which was one of the nation's largest private coal mining companies when Massey Energy bought it for nearly $1 billion in March 2010. He's now a director with the Vancouver-based mining corporation Endurance Gold.

The Griffins: Ken and Anne Dias Griffin are a hedge fund power couple from Chicago who wed in 2003. Ken is the founder and CEO of Citadel and is reportedly worth $2.3 billion. Anne founded one of the nation's largest woman-run hedge funds, Aragon Global Management. Ken bundled money for both President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain during the 2008 election.

The Haworths: Richard "Dick" Haworth is the former CEO and chairman emeritus of Haworth, an international office-interiors manufacturer based in Holland, Michigan, that he took over from his father in 1975. The company reported sales of $1.4 billion in 2005, the year he retired. He is married to Ethie Haworth and has donated more than $100,000 to Republican causes, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Diane Hendricks: Hendricks is the billionaire former head of the ABC Supply roofing company, which she took over from her husband Kenneth after he died in a construction site accident in 2007. Reportedly worth $2.2 billion, she is therichest businesswoman in Wisconsin and a big Republican Party donor. She recently gave her state's embattled Republican governor, Scott Walker,$10,000 in advance of a potential recall vote next year.

The Humphreys family: Ethelmae Humphreys is the chair of the board of Tamko Building Products, one of the country's largest independent roofing manufacturers. She also serves on the board of directors of the Cato Institute, a Koch-funded think tank. Her son David is Tamko's CEO. The two have doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates. That includes David's $25,000 donation to the successful recount effort this year of conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, who came under fire recently for allegations that he choked a fellow justice. (He wasn't charged.)

The Levys: Kenneth Levy of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, cofounded the Jacobs Levy equity management firm and has donated about $85,000 to conservative causes, according to FEC records. His wife, Frayda Levin, is a national director at the Koch brothers' advocacy group Americans for Prosperity and sits on the board of the Club for Growth. She also cofounded the Motion Picture Institute, which "promotes liberty through film," according to her AFP bio. FEC records show that she has given well over $100,000 to conservative causes.

The Marshall family: Elaine Marshall of Dallas is the widow of E. Pierce Marshall, a son of oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall who served on the board of Koch Industries before his death. Elaine was involved in a successful effort to prevent the late Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith, who married Howard when he was 89, from inheriting the family's wealth. Before Smith's death, she was investigated by the FBI but never prosecuted in a murder-for-hire plot against Pierce. In the end, Pierce inherited the bulk of his father's wealth because he and his father had previously helped Charles and David Koch thwart a takeover of Koch Industries; Howard's eldest son—also named Howard—sided against his father and was disinherited as a result. Meanwhile, Elaine's son, E. Pierce Marshall Jr., is senior vice president and general counsel at oil exploration company MarOpCo. Another son, Preston Marshall of Houston, is the president of MarOpCo.

The Popes: Art Pope is a millionaire Republican booster from Raleigh, North Carolina, who inherited his retail fortune from a family business. According to this article, he’s "one of the most trusted members of the Koch's elite circle" and a regular at the Kochs' secret seminars, as well as a "valuable junior partner in many key Koch operations." He's another national director at Americans for Prosperity and is married to Kathy Pope.

The Robertsons: Corbin Robertson is CEO and chairman of the board of Natural Resource Partners, a Houston-based fossil fuels company. He's also been involved with a number of other energy organizations and was listed as the richest US small-business owner in 2007 byCNNMoney. He and wife Barbara have donated to the Baylor College of Medicine and both Democratic and Republican politicians.

Karen Wright: Wright is the founder and CEO of the Ariel Foundation, a private philanthropy group based in Mount Vernon, Ohio. She's also CEO of the Ariel Corporation, a natural-gas compression company, and on the American Petroleum Institute's board of directors. She has donated more than $100,000 to Republican causes, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Tom Rastin: Rastin shares a Mount Vernon, Ohio, address with Karen Wright. He serves onthe board of directors at the Ariel Foundation and is vice president of marketing and engineering at the Ariel Corporation. Last year, he gave $2,400 to the failed congressional campaign of former Democratic Louisiana House Speaker Hunt Downer, who switched to the Republican Party after endorsing the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2000.

The principals with the Services Group of America: SGA is a billion-dollar food services wholesaler; its CEO, Peter Smith of Scottsdale, Arizona, appears on the list of 2010 Koch attendees. Smith took over as CEO last year after its former head, GOP heavyweight Thomas J. Stewart, died in a helicopter crash. According to FEC records, Smith has donated $12,500 to Republican congressional candidates. SGA's political action committee donates heavily to Republicans.

At the event, Charles Koch also read off names that did not appear on the 2010 attendees list, but that mirrored those of well-known GOP donors for whom giving $1 million or more to the Kochs would not seem out of character. You'll find these names below. We chose not to offer any details on the handful of names for which we could find no association with Koch business interests or conservative political giving. (Listen to Charles Koch reading the donor list.)

The Camerons: Ron Cameron of Little Rock, Arkansas, runs agribusiness giant Mountaire Corporation, which generated $1.22 billion in revenue in 2009. He has donated at least $175,000 to Republicans in recent years, including $5,000 to Sarah Palin's PAC, according to FEC records. The company itself has given at least $125,000 to outside spending groups over the past decade, according to OpenSecrets.org.

The Hamms: Self-made magnate Harold Hamm of Oklahoma City is reportedly worth $8.2 billion. The son of sharecroppers, Hamm soared up the corporate ladder from gas station attendant to CEO of "America's Oil Champion," Oklahoma-based Continental Resources. According to OpenSecrets.org, he's doled out more than $100,000 to political causes and candidates, mostly Republican. Stricken with diabetes, he and wife Sue Ann founded a centerat the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center to help combat the disease.

The Haydens: Jerry and Marilyn Hayden of Barrington, Illinois, doled out $400,000 to conservative-leaning outside spending groups in 2010 and about $250,000 to Republicans in 2008. Before retirement, Jerry ran Peacock Engineering, a packaging company. As of September 2008, he served on the board of directors at the United Republican Fund of Illinois. The Haydens recently donated $2.5 million toward an alumni center at their alma matter, Bradley University.

Virginia James: James is an investor from New Jersey. She has donated handsomely to right-wing causes, including a $750,000 gift to the Club for Growth in 2008 and another $350,000 last year. This year, she donated $25,000 to the successful recount of Wisconsin's Justice Prosser.

The Menards: John Menard of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is the founder of Menards, the country's third-largest hardware company. He's worth a reported $5.2 billion and has donated about $80,000 to his state's Republican Party and federal candidates, mostly Republicans, according to FEC records. His company backed a recent anti-union program that was linked to the Kochs' Americans for Prosperity and supported by Gov. Scott Walker.

John Moran: Hailing from Palm Springs, Florida, Moran is the former chairman of the Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation, an international holding company based in New York City. He also chaired the Republican National Finance Committee from 1993 to 1995. Moran has given more than $900,000 to Republican causes since 1991, according to OpenSecrets.org, and he bundled between $250,000 and $500,000 more for McCain's 2008 presidential bid. In 1997, he warned that the religious right was putting his party's future "in jeopardy."

The Schwabs: Charles Schwab of San Francisco is founder and chairman of the Charles Schwab Corporation, the country's largest independent brokerage firm. He is reportedly worth $4.7 billion. Since 1989, Schwab has donated more than $1.6 million to political causes, mostly Republican, according toOpenSecrets.org. Part of that went to his company's lobbying arm, which has given away millions more.

Paul Singer: While Singer is not on the list of Aspen participants, the New York Times notedthat "Annie Dickerson, who also runs a foundation for Paul Singer, a hedge fund executive who like the Kochs is active in promoting libertarian causes," showed up at that seminar. Singer founded the $17 billion hedge fund Elliott Management and recently issued an economic manifesto slamming the Federal Reserve as a "group of inbred academics."

The Templetons: John "Jack" Templeton Jr. and his wife, Josephine, of Pennsylvania, gave $50,000 apiece to Wisconsin Justice Prosser's recount effort this year. Jack has donated more than $1 million to Republicans, according to state and federal records. He heads the conservative John Templeton Foundation, which aims to merge evangelical Christianity with "science" and "health." The foundation was started by Jack's father, Sir John the mutual fund billionaire, and in 2009 reportedly had $1.7 billion in assets.


Exclusive Audio: Inside the Koch Brothers' Secret Seminar

Excerpt from an article on Mother Jones by Brad Friedman on September 6, 2011

Charles (left) and David Koch. kochmbmproductions/YouTube; Globe Photos/ZUMA

Don't miss Gavin Aronsen's breakdown of the Kochs' million-dollar donor club.

Don't forget to check out Part 2 of this report, on the GOP superstar who rocked the Koch seminar crowd.

"We have Saddam Hussein," declared billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, apparently referring to President Barack Obama as he welcomed hundreds of wealthy guests to the latest of the secret fundraising and strategy seminars he and his brother host twice a year. The 2012 elections, he warned, will be "the mother of all wars."

Charles Koch would probably not publicly compare the president of the United States to a murderous dictator. (As a general rule, he and his brother don't do much politicking or speechifying in public at all.) But Mother Jones has obtained exclusive audio recordings from the Koch seminar, a private event that took place in June at a resort near Vail, Colorado. 

These unprecedented recordings provide a behind-the-scenes look at how the Koch brothers and their comrades talk when they gather. They include a pair of keynote speeches and remarks by brothers Charles and David Koch, who spell out their political aims and name some of the "great partners" who have contributed millions of dollars to their causes. (The audio was provided by a source who approached the author after the event was over and was not seeking compensation.)

Security was tight at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch on opening night of the weekend conference, which drew an estimated 300 guests. (Past attendees have included prominent politicians, right-wing media luminaries, corporate titans, and wealthy political donors.) Audio technicians even set up outward-pointing speakers around the perimeter of the outdoor dining pavilion, according to sources, emitting static to frustrate would-be eavesdroppers.

"There is anonymity that we can protect," noted emcee "Kevin"—likely Kevin Gentry, a VP for the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation—as he gently urged guests to open their wallets in support of the brothers' causes. Indeed, Charles Koch named 32 individuals and families who had donated more than $1 million over the previous 12 months, yet because of loopholes in federal campaign law, their donations do not exist in the public record.

Charles and David Koch are co-owners of Koch Industries, an energy and chemical conglomerate inherited from their father that is currently America's second-largest privately held company. To date, the brothers have spent more than $100 million supporting hard-right political campaigns and institutions. They are key funders of the movement to discredit climate science and sow doubt on the scientific consensus that human activities contribute to global warming.

The Kochs have tried to keep everything about the seminars secret: the content, identities of attendees and speakers—even meeting locations and dates.

The Kochs also bankrolled the fledgling tea party by making massive investments in right-wing political advocacy groups such as Americans for Prosperity, as detailed by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker last year. More generally, the brothers have dedicated a portion of their vast wealth—and that of their benefactors—to influencing elections across the nation and swaying public opinion on everything from health care and fracking to labor policy and government spending.

The brothers have held their biannual seminars since at least 2003, endeavoring to keep almost everything about them a secret—not just the content but also the identities of attendees and speakers, and even the locations and dates. They've succeeded until recently. Last October, a leaked invite for the Kochs' January 2011 seminar was first obtained and published by the New York Times.* In response, groups including Common Cause and Greenpeace organized a massive protest outside the gates of the resort near Palm Springs where the gathering was held.

According to an agenda for an earlier Koch seminar (Aspen, 2010), which accompanied the leaked invitation and was published by Lee Fang of ThinkProgress.org, previous Koch seminars have featured "such notable leaders" as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.). Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also have attended.

Several GOP governors made it to the Vail seminar in June, among them Florida's Rick Scott, Virginia's Robert McDonnell, and White House hopeful Rick Perry of Texas. News of the event slipped out after McDonnell put the trip on his weekend schedule; neither Perry nor Scott initially disclosed the trip to their constituents. A Perry spokesman acknowledged his attendance only after the Austin American-Statesman tracked the tail number of a plane belonging to one of the governor's top donors from Texas to Colorado. He described the summit as a "private gathering of business leaders."

Koch read off the million-dollar honor roll, a list of 32 donors who have made seven-figure contributions to the brothers' efforts.

I contacted the Kochs numerous times with questions about the seminar, requesting clarification, for example, on Charles' Saddam Hussein reference. Without addressing the specifics, a spokeswoman for the Kochs merely pointed me to a Koch Industries web page describing the conference. (UPDATE: A Koch spokesman gave ABC News' Jake Tapper a statement claiming that Koch was "not referring to President Obama in his remarks." Listen for yourself below.)

During his welcoming remarks, Charles Koch warned his guests that the 2012 elections are nothing short of a battle "for the life or death of this country." He then acknowledged the individuals and families who had given more than $1 million to the brothers' efforts—though he misspoke, saying "more than a billion," earning a huge laugh from the crowd. "Well, I was thinking of Obama and his billion-dollar campaign," Koch said, to more laughter and cheers. "So I thought, 'We gotta do better than that.'" (Forbes pegs the brothers' personal net worth at around $22 billion apiece.)

Click icon to hear highlights from Charles Koch's speech.


(The complete audio and transcript of his remarks are available at The BRAD BLOG.)

Koch then proceeded to read off the million-dollar honor roll, a list of 32 names that we have cross-checked against the published list of 2010 attendees, as well as additional sources. The list features many well-known GOP donors including John Childs (JW Childs Associates), Rick and Helen DeVos (Amway), Dick and Joyce Farmer (Cintas), and Diane Hendricks (ABC Supply). MoJo's Gavin Aronsen breaks it all down in his post, "Exclusive: The Koch Brothers' Million-Dollar Donor Club."

Concluding his reading of the list, Charles quipped that there were "10 more [million-dollar donors] who will remain anonymous, including David and me... We're very humble... The plan is the next seminar I'm only reading the names of the $10 million," he added, to laughs from the crowd.

Charles spoke again the next evening, following a keynote speech by Fox News host and retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew P. Napolitano. The judge didn't stray far from his usual libertarian fare; he was met with hardy approval when he declared that the Second Amendment was created to ensure "the right to shoot at the government if it is taken over by tyrants."

Among Napolitano's other revelations: that he sometimes gets in "a little bit of trouble" from his employers at Fox for being tough on Republicans; that Fox hired him on the strength of his televised advice, during the contentious 2000 Florida election contest, that the Bush-Cheney campaign should take its case straight to the US Supreme Court; that he views the PATRIOT Act as the "the single most abominable, hateful, unconstitutional piece of legislation [ever] enacted"; and that he believes former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales undermined the Constitution when he threatened to prosecute the New York Times for exposing spying by the National Security Agency.

(Read excerpts from Napolitano's speech at The BRAD BLOG.)

Napolitano closed his address with a well-worn Thomas Jefferson quote: "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty."

At this point, Charles Koch returned to the podium. "We've talked about our competitive disadvantage, how we're overwhelmed in a number of areas," he said. "One of those areas, of course, is the media—and we're overwhelmed. The media is 90-plus percent against us. But we have a few bright stars, and Judge here is one of 'em.

"We are absolutely going to do our utmost to invest this money wisely and get the best possible payoff for you in the future of our country."

"Now, we've opined on what you should do, and you have to go execute. And I'm sure you'll do a great job," Koch said. "We've had great discussions, great arguers, I think great programs, great initiatives. And last but not least, I want to thank all of you who stepped forward so generously to support this as you've done in the past. And I want to give all of you a big hand for stepping forward to save our country."

The crowd applauded itself.

"We've had a lot of tough battles," he continued. "We've lost a lot over the years, and we've won some recently.…And I pledge to all of you who've stepped forward and are partnering with us that we are absolutely going to do our utmost to invest this money wisely and get the best possible payoff for you in the future of our country."

But "it isn't just your money we need," Koch added. "We need your energy. We need you bringing in new partners, new people. We can't do it alone. This group can't do it alone. We have to multiply ourselves. Just as to change the media we just can't have the judge. We need to clone him thousands and thousands-fold.

"And so, thank you so much," Koch said. "God bless you, and God bless America."

Read Part 2 of this exclusive report, on the GOP superstar who rocked the Koch crowd on opening night.

*The original version of this article implied that Lee Fang of ThinkProgress.org broke the news about the Koch's January 2011 seminar. Actually, the Times was there first. But Fang was the first to publish the leaked agenda from the Koch's 2010 seminar in Aspen.

Brad Friedman is publisher and executive editor of The BRAD BLOG.

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  • Koch Industries Fights Chemical Plant Safety Measures - Millions of Americans live near chemical plants. Is protecting them against chemical risks worth the cost?

  • How the Koch Brothers Backed Public-School Segregation - A new film exposes how the billionaire political donors backed resegregation in Wake County, North Carolina.

  • David Koch: Lamenting Cancer Research Cuts—and Bankrolling the GOPers Behind Them - The conservative billionaire protests federal research cuts—but he's funding the GOP lawmakers who want to gut the National Institutes of Health.

  • Charles Koch's Assault on Academic Freedom

     

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    How the Koch Brothers Are Trying to end Desegregation in North Carolina Schools

    Excerpts from an article on AlterNet by Adele M. Stan August 14, 2011  from the latest installment of Brave New Foundation's documentary series "Koch Brothers Exposed" reveals the Kochs' assault on public education.
     
    Photo Credit: Brave New Foundation

    Forced busing. Neighborhood schools. These were the watchwords of fights across the nation against the racial integration of public schools in the 1960s. Today, they're the watchwords of a new majority on a North Carolina school board that has set about dismantling the successful integration policy of the Wake County School District.

    In a powerful new video short (see video
    below this article) from Robert Greenwald and his Brave New Foundation, the fifth and latest installment in the foundation's "Koch Brothers Exposed" series, we hear those watchwords tumble from the lips of newly-elected school board members, juxtaposed with footage of 1960s-era segregationists uttering the very same phrases. (Full disclosure: Greenwald serves on the board of directors of the Independent Media Institute, of which AlterNet is a part.)

    The members of the Wake County school board's new majority won their seats in 2009 with organizing by the state chapter of Americans For Prosperity, the Tea Party-allied astroturf group funded by Charles and David Koch, in one of the most expensive school board races in the state's history. North Carolina retail magnate Art Pope, who serves as a director on the Americans For Prosperity Foundation, is deeply involved in the effort, as the
    Washington Post reported earlier this year.

    “The Koch brothers have more than $42 billion to make public policy out of their anti-government ideology,” said Brave New Foundation founder Robert Greenwald in a statement. “Their assault against public education epitomizes their tactics to remake our nation.”

    In the Wake County installment of "Koch Brothers Expose d,"

  • we meet two school board candidates, Karen Simon, who is black, and Rita Rakestraw, who is white. Both were defeated by AFP-backed candidates. "We came to a gunfight [armed] with knives," Simon says ruefully.

    In 2000, Wake County shifted its 1970s-era desegregation plan to one based on an economic, not a racial, model mandating that no school in the district "should have more than 40 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, the proxy for poverty,"
    according to the Washington Post
    . By most accounts, the system has worked well, creating reasonably high-performing schools in both poor areas and more wealthy enclaves. The economic formula maintained the racial diversity created by the earlier racial model, and also benefited poor whites, as well.

    But some parents were disgruntled by occasional changes in a child's school assignment -- which officials said was the result of booming growth in the county, but parents claimed were made in order to maintain the economic balance. Americans For Prosperity was able to magnify those instances to marshal support among whites to elect four Tea Party types to the school board, tilting the balance to a majority that was ready to dismantle Wake County's desegregation policy. In Greenwald's film, we see one of those members, Deborah Prickett,  complain of "forced busing" during the 2009 campaign, and another, John Tedesco, makes the case for "neighborhood schools."

    In its packed 11 minutes, the film also introduces viewers a host of local figures who oppose the re-segregation plan, including Sue Sturgis of the Institute for Southern Studies, who says that the ultimate goal of the Koch brothers is not simply the resegregation of public schools, but the privatization the public school system nationwide. The Americans For Prosperity Foundation's Art Pope is a strong proponent of private charter schools. A graphic in the film asserts that the Kochs have given $19.4 million to think tanks "that work against public education."

    According to Greenwald, Americans For Prosperity, in addition to helping school board candidates organize and develop messaging, also facilitated an alliance of groups dedicated to the privatization of public schools that includes the Wake County Community Alliance, Wake County Citizens for Quality Education, Wake Cares, and the Wake County Republican Party. The alliance, according to Greenwald, "allowed for an additional $190,000 for the AFP-funded candidates." The North Carolina AFP chapter, according to a statement by the Brave New Foundation, had access to $1 million between 2007 - 2009.

    At the root of the Wake County re-segregation plan, explains journalist Bob Geary of The Independent, a Raleigh-based progressive newspaper, is the economic libertarianism of the Kochs. The implication is that a less successful school system -- one where poor children are held separate in failing schools -- will lead to the undermining of public education to the point where privatization can prevail. Racial prejudice can be a great motivator for political organizing; in Wake County, it would appear to be the means to a libertarian end.

    In the film's most moving segments, we meet some of the students who would be affected by the re-segregation of the school system, including a pair of best friends who call themselves "twin sisters," despite the fact that one is white and one is black. Now in high school, they tell of meeting in a school dance program in the sixth grade, and in a sweet piece of video storytelling, we watch them perform a piece of modern dance in perfect unison. In another segment, a high-school boy who looks to be of South Asian descent holds open his yearbook to the pages showing the photos of those in his class -- a veritable rainbow of faces. "This pretty much describes my education since kindergarten," he says.

    Then we meet Quinton White, an African American and one of 700 school students who received notices of reassignment to his "neighborhood school." White is in high school.

    "I strongly feel that it's racism," he says. "I strongly feel that it's segregation. And it was all by surprise, all on short notice." The local chapter of the NAACP has filed a civil rights complaint with the federal government on behalf of those students, who, like White, are part of the first group to receive such reassignments, which prompted vigorous protests outside school board meetings. At present, the re-segregation plan is on hold -- not revoked, but temporarily halted.

    In the 1950s, Robert Welch, a native North Carolinian who made a fortune in candy manufacturing, joined with Fred Koch, the oil-magnate father of Charles and David, to form the John Birch Society, which fiercely opposed civil rights law and public school desegregation. After the failure of Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign, which was backed by the Birchers, Welch courted Alabama Gov. George Wallace as a potential Birch-backed candidate. (Wallace ran for the presidency as an independent in 1968.)

    In the Wake County installment of "Koch Brothers Exposed," The Independent's Bob Geary explains how the term "forced busing" was one of Wallace's favorites. Greenwald then serves up vintage footage of Wallace intoning, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

    Seems some apples don't fall far from the tree.



     

    Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/addiestan

  • Privatization: The Road to Hell

    Excerpts from an article on truthout.org by Jim Hightower on Wednesday 25 May 2011

    Billionaires are different from you and me.  They can afford to plunk down $100,000 for a sports car and consider it an impulse purchase. A few million bucks for a Matisse original? Go ahead -- it'll liven up the hallway. How about throwing a fat wad of cash at a university to get an academic chair named for you? Sure, it's all part of the fun of living in BillionaireLand.

    Then there is the top crust of the upper-crust -- such megalomaniacal megabillionaires as the Koch brothers. Using money from their industrial conglomerate, their foundation and their personal fortunes, these two far-out, laissez-faire extremists are literally buying public policy. Their purchases of everything from politicians to the tea party help them push the privatization of all things public and the elimination of pesky regulations and taxes that crimp their style.

    To advance their plutocratic privatization cause, brother Charles has even gone on a shopping spree for an invaluable bauble that most of us didn't even know was for sale: academic freedom. And it's surprisingly cheap!

    For only $1.5 million, Koch bought a big chunk of the economics department of Florida State University a couple of years ago. His donation gives him control of a new "academic" program at this public institution to indoctrinate students in his self-serving political theories.

    The billionaire gets to screen all applicants, veto any he deems insufficiently ideological, and sign off on all new hires. Also, the department head must submit yearly reports to Koch about the faculty's speeches, publications and classes, and he evaluates the faculty based on "objectives" that he sets.

    Charles has made similar purchases of academic freedom at two other state universities, Clemson and West Virginia. Also, in a May 20 piece at Alternet.org, investigative researcher Lee Fang reveals that Koch has paid $419,000 to buy into Brown University's "political theory project," $3.6 million to establish Troy University's "center for political economy" and $700,000 for a piece of Utah State's Huntsman School of Business, which now has the "Charles G. Koch Professor of Political Economy."

    Imagine the screams of outrage we'd hear from the Kochs if a labor union were doing this.

    A recent article in The Onion, the satirical newsweekly, printed a downsize-big-government spoof that Charles and David would love to turn into reality. The parody disclosed that President Obama had come up with a surefire plan to balance the federal budget: Rob Fort Knox! "I've got the blueprints," Obama is quoted as saying, "and I think I found a way out through a drainage pipe."

    Unfortunately, with today's political climate dominated by howling winds from the far-right fringe, there's no longer any room in American culture for satire. Sure enough, some laissez-faire extremists at such Koch-funded corporate fronts as Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation are presently howling for the government to sell all of America's gold stored in Fort Knox. Noting that we have billions worth of bullion in the vaults, a fellow from Heritage made this keen observation: "It's just sort of sitting there."

    Uh, yeah, professor. Like Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, the Lincoln Memorial and other national assets -- being there is the point.

    Yet these ivory tower ideologues are using the current brouhaha over the budget deficit as an opening to push their loopiest fantasies of selling off all of America's public properties, facilities, systems and treasures to create a no-government, plutocratic paradise. Just spread our public goods out on tables, like a flea market from hell, and invite the global rich to buy it all.

    For example, a fellow from another Koch-funded front, the American Enterprise Institute, observes that the government could raise billions of dollars to retire that pesky deficit simply by selling our interstate highway system. Americans would then have to pay tolls forever to the corporate owners, but hey, he exclaims, remember that tolls "work for the River Styx, why not the Beltway?"

    What a perfect metaphor for privatization! In ancient mythology, dead souls must pay a toll to be ferried across the River Styx and enter the depths of hell.

    Parts of the above are © 2011, Washington Post Writers Group and Jim Hightower

    National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.


    The Contango Game: How Koch Industries Manipulates The Oil Market For Profit and Driving Up The Cost Of Gas!!!

    koch oilIn recent weeks, gas prices around the country have surged to levels unseen since the 2008 oil spike. However, market fundamentals are not driving the nearly $4.00/gallon gas prices. In fact, under the Obama administration, oil production is at record highs and there is adequate global supply of crude. As Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commissioner Bart Chilton has explained, rampant oil speculation, which is at its highest level on record right now, is to blame for current prices.

    Currently, the public knows very little about the oil speculation industry because a conservative majority on the CFTC has refused to implement a mandate from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill to curb abuses. Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing steep cuts to the CFTC, hampering any new rules on oil speculation that may be released later this summer. Fortunately, both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the CFTC have so far survived the latest round of budget cuts.

    While much of the attention on oil speculators has rested on the backs of investors and commodity traders, the petrochemical conglomerate Koch Industries occupies a unique role in manipulating the oil market. Koch has little business in the extraction process. Instead, Koch focuses on shipping crude oil, refining it, distributing it to retailers — then speculating on the future price. With control of every part of the market, Koch is able to bet on future prices with superior information. As Yasha Levine notes, Koch along with Enron pioneered a number of complex financial products to leverage its privileged position in the energy industry.

    In 2008, Koch called attention to itself for “contango” oil market manipulation. A commodity market is said to be in contango when future prices are expected to rise, that is, when demand is expected to outstrip supply. Big banks and companies like Koch employ a contango strategy by buying up oil and storing it in massive containers both on land and offshore to lock in the oil for sale later at a set price. In December of 2008, Koch leased “four supertankers to hold oil in the U.S. Gulf Coast to take advantage of rising prices in the months ahead.” Writing about Koch’s contango efforts to artificially drive down supply, Fortune magazine writer Jon Birger noted they could be raising “gasoline prices by anywhere from 20 to 40 cents a gallon” at the time. Speaking with the Business Times, Koch executive David Chang even boasted that falling crude prices in 2008 provided an opportunity remove oil from the market for future delivery:

    CHANG: "The drop in crude oil prices from more than US$145 per barrel in July 2008 to less than US$35 per barrel in December 2008 has presented opportunities for companies such as ours. In the physical business, purchases of crude oil from producers and storing offshore in tankers allow us to benefit from the contango market where crude prices are higher for future delivery than for prompt delivery."

    A recent presentation from Koch Supply & Trading, the Koch unit devoted to selling financial products, confirms that Koch has taken advantage of a lax regulatory environment to aggressively trade on future oil prices. “The return of speculators to Oil, the ‘macro trade’ is alive and well,” reads slide 36:

    The slideshow, given to an industry association for oil speculators, describes Koch as the “world’s top five crude oil traders and actively trades about 50 types of crude oil around the world.” Notably, Koch “has trading operations in London, Geneva, Singapore, Houston, New York, Wichita, Rotterdam, and Mumbai.”

    As a recent Center for Public Integrity report uncovered, Koch lobbied aggressively against Obama’s financial reform bill, particularly on provisions related to transparency in the energy trading market. Is Koch again buying up supply in expectation of higher crude prices during the summer or beyond — as many analysts have predicted? No one knows, especially when the energy speculation and trading industry currently operates with virtually no regulation.


    You Thought the Koch Brothers Were Bad? Turns Out They're Even Worse Than You Thought

    Excerpts from an article on alternet.org by Adele M. Stan April 5, 2011
     
    Charles and David Koch's reach into virtually every aspect of political, economic and physical life on the planet is probably greater than you thought possible.
    You knew they were big. You knew they were evil. From the union-busting actions of their minions in Wisconsin and Ohio to their war on health-care reform, to their assault on the environment and their attacks on the science of climatology, Charles and David Koch have earned their place as the focus of progressives' scrutiny in the age of the Tea Party -- tctive and regressive movement they bankroll. But a new
    report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund shows that, as bad as you thought the Kochs were, they're actually worse. And their reach into virtually every aspect of political, economic and physical life on the planet is probably greater than you thought possible.

    In The Koch Brothers: What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right, author Tony Carrk, policy director of the CAP Action War Room, lays out a case that is breathtaking in its scope, showing how the Koch brothers are using their billions with the aim of reshaping the global economic system in such a way as to expense of most other inhabitants. While much of the report will have a familiar ring (especially to readers of AlterNet, and CAP Action's own
    ThinkProgress), The Koch Brothers also addresses elements of the Koch agenda far beyond the well-trodden turf of Americans for Prosperity's organizing against health-care reform or the pollution rap
    against Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held corporation in the United States, which the billionaire brothers command.

    The Kochs and the Global Economy

    Consider, for instance, the Kochs' role in the financial business. You thought Koch Industries was just a high-polluting oil-and-gas-based conglomerate? Add in the part played on Wall Street by Koch Supply & Trading, and the depth of the Koch imprint on the economy is revealed. From Carrk's report:
     
    First, the Koch brothers fought efforts to give the Commodity Futures Trading Commission more oversight over speculative trading, whereby companies can artificially inflate prices on things such as oil, during the Wall Street reform debate. One of the Koch companies—Koch Supply & Trading—takes part in oil and derivatives trading. We should point out that oil speculation has reached an all-time high at the same time gas prices continue to skyrocket.

    Then look at a recent position pushed by Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party-allied astroturf group founded and funded by David Koch (and whose sibling organization, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, he chairs):
     
    Similarly, Americans for Prosperity supports the House continuing resolution that cuts spending by $61 billion. Those cuts would reduce the budget for the CFTC by one-third. Make no mistake: Gutting the CFTC or limiting its authority would be a boon to Wall Street businesses that use complex financial instruments. But while the result is more profits for oil companies, it means everyone else pays more at the pump.
    Okay, now have a look at the Kochs' recent direct contributions to political candidates:

    The Kochs donated directly to 62 of the 87 members of the House GOP freshman class...and to 12 of the new members of the U.S. Senate.

    No wonder, then, how that
    continuing resolution -- the means for funding the government when a budget has not been passed into law -- managed to get through the House. (It was subsequently rejected by the Senate, setting the stage for a possible shutdown of the government at the end of this week.) Those 62 Koch-backed freshmen are essentially driving the agenda of the House Republicans, because together they form a large enough bloc to prevent House Speaker John Boehner from amassing a majority on any piece of legislation, should they choose to, despite the 2010 Republican victories that handed control of the House to the GOP.

    It should be noted that such "complex financial instruments" as those mentioned above had much to do with the 2008 Bush crash of Wall Street. The report reminds us that "from September 2007 to May 2009, American 401(k) and individual retirement accounts lost a total of $2.7 trillion." But if the Kochs had their way,
    Social Security would no longer be financed by the federal government
    , and would instead be invested on Wall Street -- a boon for financiers such as they. Too bad if your account takes a hit that lands you on the curb.

    And while we think of Wall Street as an American institution, when Wall Street sneezes, the world gets a cold. The Bush crash set in motion a global recession. Less oversight of the financial shenanigans known as derivatives (or "complex financial instruments") all but guarantees further crashes.

    The Brothers Koch and the Body Politic

    If you read the whole of the
    CAP Action report, you'll see how the Koch influence on the nation's politics is compounded and leveraged through a combination of the brothers' direct contributions to candidates, their investment in astroturf groups such as Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks (which do political organizing), and their funding of right-wing think tanks, which send policy position papers daily to the in-boxes of senators, representatives and their aides. Carrk identified some 85 right-leaning think tanks that received a collective $85 million from the Kochs over the course of the last 15 years. These include the Cato Institute, of which David Koch was a founder, and other well-known outfits, such as the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.

    But that's not all:
    Charles and David Koch and their company, Koch Industries, do not limit their political donations to right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups. They also donate millions directly to candidates. Since 1990, the Koch network has donated $11 million to federal candidates, $9.8 million, or 89 percent, of which went to Republicans.
    In Congress, the donations are well-targeted. Take, for example, the House Commerce and Energy Committee, whose imprint on legislation has a direct effect on Koch Industries' core businesses. (Koch's Flint Hill Resources, LLC, according to the report, "has a combined crude oil processing capacity of more than 800,000 barrels of oil per day.") From the report:

    The Kochs have contributed significantly to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In fact, they are the single-largest oil and gas donor to members of the committee, contributing $279,500 to 22 of the committee’s 31 Republicans and $32,000 to five Democrats. Tim Phillips, the head of Americans for Prosperity, even co-authored an op-ed with chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), detailing how Congress could stop the EPA from ensuring a cleaner environment.

    At the state level, the Koch influence is every bit as corrosive as it is at the national level, Carrk tells us.
    The Koch network donated $1.2 million to help elect conservative Republican governors last year, including Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich, both of whom are trying to take away collective bargaining rights. During the fight in Wisconsin, Americans for Prosperity ran an ad and orchestrated protests to support Gov. Walker’s union busting and orchestrated pro-Walker demonstrations. Americans for Prosperity also started a Web site urging people to “Stand with Governor Kasich.”

    And that's not even counting the money the brothers donate to candidates for state legislatures, or to support ballot measures designed to enrich them and their heirs. Carrk reports:

    Data from the National Institute for Money in State Politics show that from 2003 to 2010, the Koch brothers, as well as their companies, employees, and affiliates, have donated $5.2 million to state candidates and ballot measures in 34 states. $3.4 million of those donations, or 65 percent, went to Republican candidates. Another $1 million, or 20 percent, went to one ballot initiative: the effort to overturn California’s clean energy law, AB 32.

    Heck, as AlterNet reported, Americans for Prosperity was celebrating Scott Walker, the union-busting governor of Wisconsin, back when he was a mere county commissioner. In 2008, Walker served as the emcee for a ceremony by the Wisconsin chapter of the AFP Foundation -- at which the organization's "Defender of the American Dream" award was conferred upon Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who now chairs the House Budget Committee. Ryan this week proposed a budget plan for 2012 that would privatize Medicare and slash Medicaid.

    Much, Much More

    In addition to a narrative on the duo's activities in the political sphere, The Koch Brothers: What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right serves up a bevy of lists and graphics that offer a range of facts and figures in an easy-to-grok form. There's a list of all the freshman congressional representatives who have received Koch campaign dollars, and the dollar amounts they received. Those 85 Koch-funded think tanks are listed, with total-donations-per-tank noted next to their names. A map of the U.S. shows the states in which Koch Industries has facilities (nearly all 50). Another highlights the 32 states in which Americans for Prosperity has a state chapter.

    There's also a comprehensive listing of all the Koch Industries subsidiaries and what they make or sell, as well as a detailed section on the pollution and environmental infractions for which the conglomerate is responsible.

    If you're one of those people who like to be scared out of your wits, you'll find the CAP Action report better than Wes Craven's latest offering. Just consider this:

    The significant victories the billionaire Koch brothers chalked up for their ideological and business interests in the 2010 elections is only a precursor of what is to come. The Koch brothers have already pledged to raise $88 million through their considerable network for policy and political projects for the 2012 election cycle.

    The report can be downloaded HERE (PDF), for FREE.

    Bush and Wicca and Doreen Valiente  In Politics, there are three kinds of lies: "Lies, Damn Lies, and Republican Claims"


    How the Koch Brothers Indoctrinate Their Employees with Right-Wing Anti-Worker Propaganda

    Excerpts from and article in The Nation / By Mark Ames and Mike Elk April 23, 2011

    Before the landmark Citizens' United ruling, the kind of corporate propaganda Koch Industries is using wouldn't have been legal.

    On the eve of the November midterm elections, Koch Industries sent an urgent letter to most of its 50,000 employees advising them whom to vote for and warning them about the dire consequences to their families, their jobs and their country should they choose to vote otherwise.

    The Nation obtained the Koch Industries election packet for Washington State—which included a cover letter from its president and COO, David Robertson; a list of Koch-endorsed state and federal candidates; and an issue of the company newsletter, Discovery, full of alarmist right-wing propaganda.

    Legal experts interviewed for this story called the blatant corporate politicking highly unusual, although no longer skirting the edge of legality, thanks to last year’s Citizens UnitedSupreme Court decision, which granted free speech rights to corporations.

    “Before Citizens United, federal election law allowed a company like Koch Industries to talk to officers and shareholders about whom to vote for, but not to talk with employees about whom to vote for,” explains Paul M. Secunda, associate professor of law at Marquette University. But according to Secunda, who recently wrote in The Yale Law Journal Online about the effects of Citizens United on political coercion in the workplace, the decision knocked down those regulations. “Now, companies like Koch Industries are free to send out newsletters persuading their employees how to vote. They can even intimidate their employees into voting for their candidates.” Secunda adds, “It’s a very troubling situation.”

    The Kochs were major supporters of the Citizens United case; they were also chief sponsors of the Tea Party and major backers of the anti-“Obamacare” campaign. Through their network of libertarian think tanks and policy institutes, they have been major drivers of unionbusting campaigns in Wisconsin, Michigan and elsewhere.

    “This sort of election propaganda seems like a new development,” says UCLA law professor Katherine Stone, who specializes in labor law and who reviewed the Koch Industries election packet for The Nation. “Until Citizens United, this sort of political propaganda was probably not permitted. But after the Citizens United decision, I can imagine it’ll be a lot more common, with restrictions on corporations now lifted.”

    The election packet starts with a letter from Robertson dated October 4, 2010. It read: “As Koch company employees, we have a lot at stake in the upcoming election. Each of us is likely to be affected by the outcome on Nov. 2. That is why, for the first time ever, we are mailing our newest edition of Discovery and several other helpful items to the home address of every U.S. employee” [emphasis added].

    For most Koch employees, the “helpful items” included a list of Koch-approved candidates, which was presented on a separate page labeled “Elect to Prosper.” A brief introduction to the list reads: “The following candidates in your state are supported by Koch companies and KOCHPAC, the political action committee for Koch companies. We believe these candidates will best advance policies supporting economic freedom.”

    What the Kochs mean by “economic freedom” is explained on the next page. As the mailer makes clear, Koch Industries tailored its election propaganda to the state level, rather than focusing on national elections. Of the 19 candidates that Koch Industries recommended in its Washington State list, 16 were Republicans. The three Democratic candidates approved by the Kochs included two members of the “Roadkill Caucus,” Washington’s version of the conservative Blue Dogs.

    Only two of the 19 races on the list were for national office, and in both cases Koch Industries backed Tea Party-friendly Republicans: Dino Rossi, an antilabor candidate, who lost to incumbent Democratic Senator Patty Murray; and Jaime Herrera-Beutler, who ran in the Republican primary as a moderate, but who came out recently as a Tea Party radical, much to her constituency’s surprise.

    After guiding employees on how they should vote, the mailer devoted the rest of the material to the sort of indoctrination one would expect from an old John Birch Society pamphlet (the Koch brothers’ father, Fred Koch, was a founding member of the JBS). It offers an apocalyptic vision of the company’s free-market struggle for liberty against the totalitarian forces of European Union bureaucrats and deficit-spending statists.

    The newsletter begins with an unsigned editorial preaching familiar Tea Party themes, repackaged as Koch Industry corporate philosophy:

    For more than 40 years, Koch Industries has openly and consistently supported the principles of economic freedom and market-based policies. Unfortunately, these values and principled point of view are now being strongly opposed by many politicians (and their media allies) who favor ever-increasing government…. Even worse, recent government actions are threatening to bankrupt the country…. And the facts are that the overwhelming majority of the American people will be much worse off if government overspending is allowed to bankrupt the country.

    Further into the company newsletter is an article headlined “What’s a Business to Do?” It portrays corporate titans like the Kochs as freedom-fighting underdogs, modern-day Sakharovs and Mandelas targeted for repression by Big Government statists: “Citizens who are openly critical of the European Union bureaucracy in Brussels or the out-of-control government of the United States are being shouted down by politicians, government officials and their media and other allies.”

    In this scenario, Big Government wants to muzzle the Kochs before they can spread their message to the people. That message comes down to preaching the benefits of lower wages:

    If the government insists that someone should be paid $50 per hour in wages and benefits, but that person only creates $30 worth of value, no one will prosper for long…. Anything that undermines the mobility of labor, such as policies that make it more expensive and difficult to change where people are employed, also increases unemployment…. Similar policies that distort the labor market—such as minimum wage laws and mandated benefits—contribute to unemployment.

    Easily the strangest and most disturbing article of all comes from the head of Koch Industries himself, Charles Koch, who offers an election-season history lesson to his employees. Koch’s essay sets out to rank the best and worst US presidents in terms of their economic policies. Charles—who with his brother David is worth $44 billion, putting them fifth on the 2010 Forbes 400 list—warns his readers that his history lesson may surprise them. And to his credit, Koch doesn’t disappoint.

    Koch glorifies Warren G. Harding and his successor Calvin Coolidge for producing “one of the most prosperous [eras] in U.S. history.” Koch explains that what made Harding great was his insistence on “cutting taxes, reducing the national debt and cutting the federal budget,” all policies that Congressional Republicans are proposing in today’s budget negotiations. What made Harding so great, in other words, is what made radical Republican candidates so great in November 2010.

    Koch’s pick for worst president is Herbert Hoover, whom he accuses of undermining “economic freedom” and thus precipitating the Great Depression. “Under Hoover,” he writes, “federal spending roughly doubled and personal income tax rates jumped from 25 percent to 63 percent. He raised corporate taxes, too, and doubled the estate tax. Hoover also pressured business leaders to keep wages artificially high, contributing to massive unemployment.”

    According to most historians, the Harding and Coolidge administrations’ free-market romp was one of the key factors that led to the Great Depression. Their time in office was marked by obscene corruption, racial violence, unionbusting, feudal wealth inequalities and, shortly thereafter, the total collapse of the American economy.

    * * *

    Legal experts say that this kind of corporate-sponsored propagandizing has been almost unheard-of in America since the passage of New Deal–era laws like the National Labor Relations Act, which codified restrictions on political activism and pressure in the workplace. NYU law professor Samuel Estreicher, director of the Center for Labor and Employment Law, toldThe Nation in an e-mail interview that such overt politicking to employees is still rare. “I am not aware of it happening with many employers,” he wrote.

    According to UCLA’s Stone, although Citizens United frees Koch Industries and other corporations to propagandize their employees with their political preferences, the same doesn’t hold true for unions—at least not in the workplace. “If a union wanted to hand out political materials in the workplace not directly relevant to the workers’ interests—such as providing a list of candidates to support in the elections—the employer has the right to ban that material,” says Stone. “They could even prohibit its distribution on lunch breaks or after shifts, because by law it’s the company’s private property.”

    Stone points to a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1915, Coppage v. Kansas, which protected employers’ right to draw up contracts forbidding employees from joining unions. Justice William Day’s dissent in that case pointed out that if the state was ready to enforce the employers’ contractual bans on union activity, then it was opening the way for the state to enforce employers’ legal right to control their employees’ political and ideological activities:

    Would it be beyond a legitimate exercise of the police power to provide that an employee should not be required to agree, as a condition of employment, to forgo affiliation with a particular political party, or the support of a particular candidate for office? It seems to me that these questions answer themselves.

    With Citizens United, it seems, the country is heading back to the days of court-enforced corporatocracy. Already, workers at a Koch subsidiary in Portland, Oregon, are complaining about being subjected to political and ideological propaganda. Employees at Georgia-Pacific warehouses in Portland say the company encourages them to read Charles Koch’s The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management Built the World’s Largest Private Company and to attend ideological seminars in which Koch management preaches their bosses’ “market-based management” philosophy.

    Travis McKinney, an employee at a Portland Georgia-Pacific distribution center, says, “They drill into your head things like ‘The 10 Guiding Principles of Koch Industries.’ They even stamp the ten principles on your time card.”

    McKinney, a fourth-generation employee of Georgia-Pacific, says relations have sharply deteriorated since Koch Industries bought the company in late 2005. He and fellow employees at three Georgia-Pacific distribution centers are locked in a yearlong contract battle with the new Koch Industries management. Workers there, members of the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific (an affiliate of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union) recently voted unanimously to reject management’s contract and voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if management continues to try to impose cuts in benefits and job security in the new contracts.

    Political propagandizing is a heated issue in Oregon, which passed SB-519 in the summer of 2009, a bill placing restrictions on corporations’ ability to coerce employees to attend political meetings and vote the way the corporation tells them to vote. In late December 2009—just before SB-519 was to go into effect—the US Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit with Associated Oregon Industries to block the bill from becoming law. A similar bill in Wisconsin was struck down in November in a federal court. However, the Chamber’s lawsuit in Oregon was thrown out in May 2010 by US District Court Judge Michael Mosman on procedural grounds, leaving open the possibility that it could still be struck down.

    In the meantime, workers across the country should start preparing for a future workplace environment in which political proselytizing is the new normal.

     

    AlterNet/The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute / By Adele M. Stan
    During the 2010 election campaign, WSJ editorial board member Stephen Moore carried the Koch agenda to Wisconsin workers -- in workplace seminars called by their bosses.
     

    This article was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

    In a darkened hotel ballroom in Pittsburgh, a middle-aged man with a boyish affect stands before the enthusiastic, if graying, activists of the Americans For Prosperity Foundation, gathered in August 2009 for its annual RightOnline conference.

    "How many people here read the Wall Street Journal editorial page?" asks Stephen Moore, who sits on the paper's editorial board. The crowd responds enthusiastically. "What would we do," he continues, "without the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, right? And Americans for Prosperity?"

    As the nation's largest-circulation newspaper and the paper of record for the nation's financial sector, the Wall Street Journal occupies a unique place amid the panoply of American news sources, and not only for its influence on the nation's economy. The paper is matched only by Fox News in its unabashed alliance with political advocacy organizations associated with Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers and noted conservative funders who run Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held corporation in the United States.

    Along with his colleague, John Fund, a columnist for the paper's OpinionJournal Web site, Moore is a frequent and popular speaker at events sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP Foundation). The foundation, which aims to inculcate a right-wing economic agenda among citizen activists, is chaired by David Koch, whose personal wealth is estimated at more than $20 billion. Ubiquitous as pundits on cable news, both Moore and Fund also participate, AlterNet has learned, in a workplace "education" program, Prosperity 101, that is linked to the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, which mobilizes activists to advocate for policies and politicians who support a pro-business agenda.

    The Prosperity 101 program was presented, according to Moore, in at least a dozen workplaces in the heat of the 2010 election campaign -- most of them in Wisconsin. Organizers of Prosperity 101, a for-profit company, were unwilling to speak with AlterNet about it, as were executives at most of the participating companies. So, too, were executives of the Wall Street Journal.

    Moore's involvement with such a blatantly political organization -- one whose agenda aligns so obviously with that of the GOP -- is an anomaly for an editorial board member of a national newspaper. AFP pledged to spend $45 million in the 2010 election cycle and launched a barrage of televised attack ads against Democratic candidates.

    Founded by Koch in 2003, the AFP Foundation and its sibling organization, simply called Americans for Prosperity (the two share staff but have separate boards of directors), did not gain widespread public notice until the brutal battle against President Barack Obama's health-care reform legislation. The two groups organized battalions of Tea Party activists to oppose the bill at noisy protests and town-hall meetings.

    Yet opposition to health-care reform is but one part of the AFP agenda. The groups have also made it a priority to battle energy reform and, according to Tim Phillips, who leads both organizations, to shrink both the government workforce and the unions that represent its rank and file. Last January, in a speech to activists at the Leadership Institute, a right-wing training center located in Arlington, Virginia, Phillips explained that the reason fiscal conservatives failed to win the day on their issues during the tenure of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was that right-wingers did not "have an army on the ground" while "the left did."

    "They had the public employee unions," Phillips said, "which have only gotten stronger, have only gotten better-funded, have only gotten better organized in the period of time between the 1990s and today."

    Less than six weeks later, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, whose career has been propelled by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), introduced the anti-labor budget bill that incited 18 days of mass protests in the state capitol.

    A Koch-Murdoch Alliance

    The Prosperity 101 program endorsed and fronted by Moore claims to "educate" workers in their workplaces about several high-priority policy concerns for "business prosperity." Program materials have a decidedly anti-government slant, and Prosperity 101 boosters, including Moore, are well known for their anti-labor views. In a promotional video for the program, the Journal's Moore asserts that "the most important lessons of economics -- from Prosperity 101 -- is that jobs come from businesses; jobs do not come from government." The program's textbook, Prosperity 101™: Job Security Through Business Prosperity, asserts: "Government can never create prosperity" and argues against social service programs, implying that those who need them lack the values of "hard work and determination."

    Much is made in liberal and progressive circles of the echo chamber in which right-wing news outlets amplify the talking points of right-leaning think tanks and often succeed in pushing these themes into mainstream media. Fox News is widely reviled for its prowess at such message projection, but the Wall Street Journal is rarely mentioned -- perhaps because the Journal is perceived as far more mainstream. (Both the Journal, which is part of Dow Jones & Company, and Fox News belong to the same parent company, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.) There are good reasons for this perception: the Journal's celebrated news pages are fair to their subjects, and its hard-right opinion pages are seen as a separate realm.

    Yet the Journal's opinionators have reaped rewards from the AFP Foundation for conveying views that coincide precisely with the Koch agenda. For starters, Moore receives speaking fees for his frequent appearances at AFP Foundation events. While requests for information on Moore's compensation for these engagements received no response from the AFP Foundation, spokesperson Mary Ellen Burke did say it was a "specific negotiated honorarium," arrived at on an event-by-event basis. (Burke recently left the organization.) The speaker's bureau that represents Moore lists his fee as between $7,500 and $10,000 per appearance. Since 2006, Moore has made at least 24* appearances at AFP Foundation gatherings. If Moore received his minimum listed fee for each of these appearances, he'd have earned upward of $180,000* from the AFP Foundation so far. Moore says he has given all of his earnings from the Americans For Prosperity Foundation to charity.

    Both Moore and Prosperity 101 founder Linda J. Hansen say he was not compensated for his multiple appearances on behalf of the for-profit Prosperity 101.

    Wall Street Journal Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot declined to answer an e-mail request for the Journal's guidelines on outside activities by its employees, nor would he comment on Moore's AFP Foundation gigs, forwarding my query to Ashley Huston, senior director of corporate communications for Dow Jones. She replied, "Journal editorial page staff attend a variety of meetings and conferences in their capacity as journalists. We address the utility and appropriateness of attending such meetings on a case by case basis." Huston would not say whether the Journal had signed off specifically on Moore's AFP Foundation appearances or his involvement in Prosperity 101.

    For a point of comparison, I asked a spokesperson for the New York Times, which has a mostly liberal editorial page, whether editorial board members are permitted to accept speaking fees from political advocacy groups, including those that run political television advertisements. "NO," replied Eileen Murphy, vice president of communications for the New York Times Company, by e-mail. "In fact a Times editorial board member would not be permitted to take speaking fees from a political organization…full stop."

    The same standard, she wrote, applies to Times opinion columnists who are not on the editorial board.

    A New Paradigm

    While paid appearances by Moore at conferences and events sponsored by AFP and its foundation may raise eyebrows, Moore's involvement with Prosperity 101 is more troubling, given the program's uncertain provenance and the reluctance of its founder to discuss the program with reporters.

    The idea behind Prosperity 101 is simple: Employers gather employees for a "voluntary" seminar where nervous workers, already sweating in an economy that is shedding jobs, are told that government regulation, unions and tax increases -- even if only on the wealthy -- are bad for their employers, thereby threatening the workers' own livelihoods. Then they're reminded to vote -- for example, in last year's midterm elections. (The Prosperity 101 textbook includes a sample voter registration form from the State of Wisconsin.) And in the program textbook, employee participants are urged to join Americans for Prosperity, which has a history of alliances with GOP candidates.

    In the textbook's introduction, Hansen, Prosperity 101's creator, plays on workers' fears of economic insecurity, stirred up by the lingering recession:

    You go to work every day, giving your best efforts in hopes of keeping your job through every economic cycle and every corporate downsizing…Will you be included in the next round of layoffs?… Do you know your job security is not just dependent on your performance?...Prosperity 101TM is designed to empower you, the employee, to go beyond your paradigms and look at job protection in a new way.

    Set up as a for-profit, limited liability company, Prosperity 101's registered agent is Hansen herself. She also serves as executive director and senior vice president of the Wisconsin Prosperity Network, founded in 2009 as a non-profit umbrella group for a number of the state's right-wing think tanks and activist groups in the state. The network's "main organizer," as he described himself to the Wisconsin State Journal, is Mark Block, 54, who at the time served as state director for AFP's Wisconsin chapter. (Block left as director last December, concluding a five-year tenure that helped sweep into power a number of AFP Wisconsin favorites, including Scott Walker, in both the state house and the U.S. Congress.)

    The lines between these various entities are often quite tangled. At a February 2010 Tea Party rally in the small city of Sheboygan, Hansen told supporters that Prosperity 101 -- a for-profit company -- was part of the Wisconsin Prosperity Network, the non-profit she directs.

    But when I tracked down Moore at a September religious-right conference, he was under the impression that Prosperity 101 was a program of the AFP Foundation. And when I spoke with Tim Phillips, who heads up both AFP and its foundation, after his January 2011 appearance in Virginia, he told me he didn't know if Prosperity 101 was affiliated with his organizations or not. Mary Ellen Burke, then a spokesperson for both AFP and its foundation, responded to an e-mail query in more definitive terms.

    "Prosperity 101 is NOT part of Americans for Prosperity," Burke wrote. "Some of our state chapters have worked with them as they would any other like-minded coalition."

    Burke suggested that I speak with Mark Block, then AFP state director in Wisconsin, who failed to respond to a phone message and follow-up e-mail. When I caught up with him at February's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., Block, now serving as "chief of staff" to keynoter Herman Cain, the fast food magnate turned GOP presidential hopeful, denied having any involvement with Prosperity 101. Yet at a Prosperity 101 event the previous summer in Las Vegas, Cain told his audience that it was Block who, with Hansen, had recruited him for the program.

    The Right's "Answer to ACORN"

    Last July, before a crowd of some 200 activists at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Cain, Hansen, and the Wall Street Journal's John Fund promoted Prosperity 101 at a presentation that was part of the AFP Foundation's RightOnline conference, the foundation's answer to the yearly liberal Netroots Nation convention. While Netroots convened off the main drag at the comparatively modest Rio Hotel and Casino, Tim Phillips made a point of telling his audience that the AFP Foundation chose the opulent Venetian because it is the only non-union hotel on the Strip.

    As Hansen introduced her program to AFP activists, she couldn't resist taking a swipe at what was once the left's best-known community organizing group, felled by a smear campaign led by right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart, also a Koch ally.

    "A key component of Prosperity 101 is working with employers to help them encourage voter registration among their employees," Hansen, trim and stylish at 52, explained to the crowd. "So when Herman [Cain] first heard the concept here, he said, 'You've come up with the answer to ACORN!'"

    Hansen then played the Prosperity 101 promotional video, which features Cain and the Journal's Stephen Moore.

    Moore's segment confers a crucial air of legitimacy upon Prosperity 101 by virtue of his post at the world's premier financial newspaper, an affiliation that is highlighted both in the video and in the program's other promotional materials. "Washington is working against employers," Moore tells viewers. "It's working against people who are trying to create wealth and are trying to employ workers."

    Each audience member received a copy of the program's textbook, a slender paperback that features material by Cain and Moore, among others.

    In "The Keys to Prosperity," Moore's chapter in the Prosperity 101 textbook, he offers up a series of charts, some of them indecipherable, including a pie chart called "Where Your Federal Tax Dollar Goes." (Apparently derived from an earlier presentation Moore made at an AFP Foundation event, the same charts can be found here; scroll to slide no. 16 for this one.) Citing such official sources as the Internal Revenue Service, the Government Accountability Office, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it features eight slices labeled "Flushed Down a Toilet, "Pissed Away," "Down a Rat Hole," "Sleaze," "Corruption," "Given to 'Supporters,'" "Tossed Down the Drain," and "Postage Stamps." (The latter, Moore baselessly contends, accounts for 6 percent of your tax dollars -- which is, incidentally, six times the allotment for non-military foreign aid.)

    After the video, John Fund, 54, took to the mic, devoting his presentation to a story about the right's favorite hero, Ronald Reagan, from Reagan's days as a pitchman for General Electric in the 1950s.

    While Reagan's time at GE was memorialized by the GE-sponsored television show he hosted, his other duties included rallying the conglomerate's 250,000 employees. He regularly appeared before workplace gatherings "as a spokesman for its free market, anti-union, anti-Communist, anti-welfare creed," in the words of journalist Gary Kamiya, who has written about the period. The Prosperity 101 program, Fund indicated, draws on the legacy of Reagan's workplace-indoctrination sessions -- often with Stephen Moore serving as the Reagan figure, an affable educator, opening the eyes of employees of participating companies.

    Reagan, Fund said, was impressed with the knowledge of free-market economics displayed by GE workers, thanks to a company book exchange -- a kind of lending library that circulated ideological economic texts, including The Road to Serfdom, by the Austrian writer Friedrich A. Hayek, a title that has been made newly popular, Fund pointed out, by Glenn Beck.

    Following Fund's presentation, Timothy Nerenz, executive vice president of the Oldenburg Group, a privately held, Wisconsin-based manufacturer of mining and defense equipment and commercial lighting, sketched out the salutary effects of Prosperity 101 on his employees. Nerenz, 56, a bespectacled and wry end-the-Fed libertarian who launched a brief run for Congress in Wisconsin's 2nd District last year, spoke of how his company's facilities have book exchanges like the one that so impressed Reagan, for which Nerenz took to supplying some of his favorite texts. He cited, by way of illustration, Ayn Rand's libertarian classic, Atlas Shrugged, which, during an appearance on Glenn Beck's radio program, Moore called "my bible."

    Then, Nerenz said, he began putting copies of the Prosperity 101 textbook into circulation, and found it a useful resource for talking to his employees about issues that affected Oldenburg's interests, which he identified as "card check" (a reference to the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for private-sector workers to form a union), "cap and trade" (the carbon-trading scheme in the Obama energy reform proposal), and health-care reform.

    "If cap-and-trade passes, it means half of our factories are in jeopardy," he said, as if talking to his workers. "We probably will not be able to operate. You ration my energy, I can't run this factory. I've got at least twelve countries who want me to move it there."

    Then Nerenz turned to the question of unions. "Now, you certainly have a right to a union, right?" he said. "You got rights, I got rights, all God's children got rights. But you need to know before you make that decision what's involved in that decision."

    When I pressed him after the panel to clarify whether he was threatening to shut down factories whose workers chose to unionize, he said, "It's not a threat, it's just a statement of fact: We don't operate union facilities." He added that his employees have shown they don't want a union, anyway, since previous attempts to organize in his factories have failed.

    Herman Cain, who had delivered a rousing speech earlier in the day at the conference's general session, wrapped up the breakout. An anomaly among the Tea Party crowd, Cain is African American, and his presidential bid positions him as a kind of anti-Obama steeped in free-market principles.

    "Now, it's probably wise to give up on a lot of the stupid people" running government, said the 65-year-old businessman. "But there are a lot of uninformed people...They just have not been given access to easy-to-understand information about some of the garbage that they are hearing about these various pieces of legislation. So, it's this uninformed group that is the target for Prosperity 101."

    The Moore Factor

    None of the key players behind Prosperity 101 were keen to speak to AlterNet, and Stephen Moore, the Wall Street Journal editorial board member, was no exception. After Moore failed to respond to an e-mail request for an interview, I tracked down him at last September's Values Voter Summit, an annual political gathering of the Christian right in Washington, D.C., where he took part in a break-out session sponsored by the Heritage Foundation on why fiscal conservatism is a natural part of the "family values" agenda.

    Heritage is one of the two Koch-funded think tanks through which Moore launched his career as an anti-tax guru; the other is the Cato Institute. Both Cato and the Heritage Foundation issue materials denying the human role in climate change, a major tenet of the Koch agenda, as Koch Industries' core businesses are rooted in oil and gas. Moore has repeatedly told audiences that global warming is "the greatest hoax of the last 100 years."

    Before he joined the Wall Street Journal, Moore served as the founding president of the Club for Growth, an organization which, as of March 9 -- the day Walker's union-stripping bill passed the Wisconsin Senate -- had purchased 826 ads in support of the bill, at a cost of $193,605, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette, outstripping opposition spending by the AFL-CIO.

    When I caught up with Moore between sessions, he said that he had appeared at a dozen Prosperity 101 sessions so far across the country, including eight in Wisconsin. Moore, who, at 51, exudes a youthful air, complete with Harry Potter-style glasses, offered up a benign description of his Prosperity 101 speaking engagements.  "You know, they have forums on how to create prosperity, create jobs, high-income-paying jobs," he said. "So we just walk them through the ABCs of how our economy works. And what happens is, a lot of employers ask their workers, just voluntarily, if they'd like to take an hour and just hear a presentation on this. So, we've been going around the State of Wisconsin with this."

    "So, do you think of yourself as an activist?" I asked.

    "No," he replied. "Well, I once was, but now I'm a journalist."

    Astroturfing the Fourth Estate?

    While it's not uncommon for big-name journalists to supplement their incomes on the lecture circuit, Stephen Moore's relationship with such expressly political groups as AFP and Prosperity 101 is unusual.

    Kelly McBride, who teaches journalism ethics at the Poynter Institute, a non-profit center for journalism education, said that while she was unfamiliar with the particulars of the Moore case, "outside employment with organizations that are promoting a political agenda" is prohibited in most news organizations -- even for editorial board members.

    "Even in a newsroom that has a political tilt to its editorial board," McBride continued, "in most cases, it's important for that newsroom to maintain its independence so that the readers believe that the editorial board's loyalties are with the readers -- and not necessarily with another organization."

    But the Journal isn't quite like other papers, suggested Nicholas Lemann, a longtime New Yorker writer and dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism. Moore's tenure as founder and president of the anti-tax group Club for Growth would have disqualified him as an editorial board member in most newsrooms, Lemann said, but the Wall Street Journal appears to have long operated according to a different standard. "The fact that [the Journal] would hire Steve Moore as an editorial writer in a sense proves the point," he said. (As far back as the 1980s, writers for the Journal's editorial page would turn up at meetings of the American conservative movement, Lemann recalled, mentioning John Fund in particular, "and the vibe was that they were attending as a member of the movement.")

    "I don't think the New York Times would hire as an editorial writer somebody who ran a major advocacy organization on the left," he said.

    Lemann suggested that the key to assessing the Moore situation is whether or not his involvement with Prosperity 101 and the AFP Foundation violates the Wall Street Journal's own ethical standards. Per the Journal’s Policies for News Departments, Moore's involvement with Prosperity 101 would appear to violate a proscription against "outside activities" that exploit the Wall Street Journal's name. The code also clearly states that employees of the Journal's news departments are prohibited from accepting speaking fees or honoraria of any kind. Editorial page personnel are typically considered to be part of a paper's news staff, according to Poynter's McBride.

    Beyond the Journal's standards, Moore flouts a basic tenet of journalism ethics when, while appearing as a pundit in discussions about the Tea Party and AFP, he fails to disclose his own close political and financial ties to the AFP Foundation.

    Take as an example a Journal column he wrote last year in which he quoted an Americans For Prosperity official, Texas chapter director Peggy Venable, to support his point, while never mentioning his own relationship to the AFP Foundation. Or the September 2 edition of "The Diane Rehm Show," a syndicated NPR program, in which Moore appeared in his journalist guise for a discussion of the Tea Party movement.

    When the discussion turned to the role of Americans for Prosperity and the Koch brothers in fueling the Tea Party, Rehm turned to Moore to ask what he thought "these outsider groups," were looking for. "What policies do they want?" Rehm asked. "What do they want to discard? What do they want to change?"

    In answering, Moore failed to disclose his repeated paid appearances at AFP Foundation events, and instead answered in such a way that appeared to cast himself as a disinterested journalist.

    "I see some parallels to the Perot movement back in 1992, which, you know, Ross Perot ran sort of on fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget," Moore replied. "But I think a lot of those Perot voters have kind of become part of this Tea Party movement. When I talked to these folks, they feel like things are out of control in Washington."

    Prosperity 101: The Companies

    The back cover of the Prosperity 101 textbook features testimonials from executives at six privately held corporations. Two of them, Menards and Reinhart Food Service, are among the top 40 privately held corporations in the United States, according to Forbes. Taken together, the companies led by executives who endorse Prosperity 101 employ some 53,500 U.S. workers. All six companies are headquartered in Wisconsin.

    Menards, which operates more than 250 home-improvement retail stores, as well as a lumber-fabricating business, is No. 40 on the Forbes list; Reyes Holdings, which owns Reinhart Food Service, is No. 20. Rounding out the group is Wausau Homes, a manufacturer of custom prefabricated dwellings; Kwik Trip Inc., a chain of convenience stores and discount tobacco outlets; and the Oldenburg Group, the defense contractor whose vice president spoke on behalf of Prosperity 101 in Las Vegas.

    Menards executives, whose company is known for its poor environmental record, virulent anti-labor practices and workplace rules that border on the abusive (see sidebar, "Notorious Wisconsin Retailer Backs AFP-Linked Anti-Union Program"), failed to respond to several requests for comment on the company's participation in Prosperity 101. Likewise, Steve Loehr, Kwik Trip's vice president for operations, whose endorsement appears on the cover of Prosperity 101's textbook, did not respond to a request for comment.

    The Oldenburg Group's Tim Nerenz, whose testimonial also graces the cover, along with his company affiliation, wrote by e-mail that his endorsement of Prosperity 101 is personal. "[T]he company does not participate directly in groups outside of relevant trade associations," Nerenz wrote. "However, our executives and managers are encouraged to participate in charitable, educational, and policy advocacy in the communities and when we do, we typically will use our titles and company affiliation so people can assess the relevance of our ideas and contributions."

    But he did confirm that he uses the Prosperity 101 textbook as a way to discuss his employer's interests with its employees. "We have found Prosperity 101 to be useful in educating employees with an interest in economics, tax policy, and legislative initiatives," he wrote. "We have made P101 materials available in common areas for voluntary selection."

    Of all the executives listed by Prosperity 101 as endorsers of the program, only Tom Schuette, owner of Wausau Homes, agreed to be interviewed about his company's participation in the program. I reached him in April by telephone at his office. Schuette and members of his family donated a total of $25,000 to Scott Walker's gubernatorial campaign and even hosted Walker at company headquarters during a campaign stop last year.

    Schuette is also active with the Wisconsin AFP chapter. Last year, he joined Kwik Trip's Steve Loehr and Oldenburg's Nerenz, along with Cain, Moore, Fund and Hansen, as a presenter at the Wisconsin Defending the American Dream conference, co-sponsored by the Wisconsin chapter of the AFP Foundation and the Wisconsin Prosperity Network. The team addressed a session for high-level donors on the topic of Prosperity 101.

    Wausau Homes is by far the smallest of the companies publicly associated with Prosperity 101. With the bursting of the housing bubble, Schuette said, he was forced to lay off 500 people, yielding him a remnant workforce of 54. Schuette sees the government as the culprit in the housing market's demise -- not because of deregulation, but because of, as he sees it, government's "meddling in our free-enterprise system." He believes that government changed mortgage rules to encourage "disadvantaged" people to buy homes, creating a bubble that was destined to burst. (Actually, deregulation of the mortgage industry in 1980, and changes to the tax code in 1986 -- the latter signed into law by President Reagan -- had much to do with creating the conditions for the bubble.)

    When he had to lay off 500 "innocent" people, as he described them, Schuette made a vow, he said, to "do something about it." That's when he began working with AFP, he said, and it was how he met Hansen, who allowed him to use Prosperity 101when it was still "in the development level" without paying a fee. So, Schuette said, he implemented the program himself, convening small groups over the course of last summer at Wausau Homes headquarters to study Moore's charts. The small groups, he said, allowed them to "have better discussions." Schuette said that the sessions did not place undue political pressure on his employees, and insisted that the workers who participated were not told how to cast their votes last November.

    "Let's face it," he added, "the press is typically biased, so how do they get information if we're not providing it to them as an employer?"

    *UPDATE: Since AlterNet's initial publication of this article, we discovered an additional six appearances by Stephen Moore at Americans For Prosperity Foundation events, bringing the updated figure to 24 appearances. (We had previously reported 18 appearances, yielding Moore at least $135,000 in speaking fees.) We ran our compiked list of 24 appearances by Moore via e-mail, who said it  "sound[ed] about right." He did not contest our assertion that he earned between $7,500 to $10,000 per appearance.

    Research assistance by Neima Jahromi.

     


    Watch: Attack of the Kochtopus! [Cartoon]

    Mother Jones illustrator Zina Saunders creates editorial animations riffing on the political news and current events of the week. In this week's animation, the many tentacles of Koch brothers are at it again: fighting to eliminate the EPA, funding anti-union politicians, and steering the conservative media. As always, that's Saunders doing the singing and voiceovers.

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Funded by the Koch Bros.

  • WATCH: On the Lam in Wisconsin (Cartoon)

  • Kochs Spent Big on EPA Foes

  • The Koch Brothers' Vast Right-Wing Media Conspiracy

  • Kochs Attempt to Unmask Climate Pranksters

  • Zina Saunders is an award-winning illustrator whose work appears in national magazines and newspapers and whose political satires have amused or outraged her audience, depending on which side of the aisle they sit.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    The next is from The Other 98%  KochBlocked.com
     

     


    By Funding the Tea Party the Koch Brothers are No Longer Anonymous!

    Excerpts from an article posted on usnews.com February 2, 2011 by Peter Finn

    Until just recently David and Charles Koch, the third Richist Americans, have been very low key. Aside from David Koch’s gifts to the Lincoln Center in New York and the naming of a theater after him, few outside a small, elite circle would recognize the name or know how to pronounce it. (“Koch” as in “coke”)

    For over thirty years, they have worked behind the scenes and under the radar.  They and their father amassed an incredible fortune, mainly in the oil business. Their privately held company revenues last year were estimated at $100 billion. Each brother is worth $21.5 billion. That is a very big “B” in both cases.

    For many years, they have been involved in politics but not terribly open or transparent about it. It is true that David Koch ran as vice president on the 1980 Libertarian ticket, to the right of Ronald Reagan. According to New York Times columnist Frank Rich, “his campaign called for the abolition not just of Social Security, federal regulatory agencies and welfare but also of the FBI, the CIA, and public schools.” Since the Libertarian party’s 1 percent showing in 1980, David Koch has very much been behind the scenes, until now. [See who donates the most to your member of Congress.]

    Jane Mayer, of The New Yorker, in her 10,000 word piece last August, peeled the cover off the onion of the Koch brothers' empire. And she focused not only on their personal wealth and family, but on their political empire building.

    It was not, and is not, easy to get the details on the extent of their tentacles. They funnel money through 501c3 tax-exempt foundations, and they give money to other foundations, lobbying organizations, and right wing think tanks. They have PACs; they support candidates. Only a small portion of what they control do they divulge.

    But it has now come out how involved they have been in funding Tea Party groups, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, and Citizens for a Sound Economy ($12 million). [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the Tea Party.]

    We do know, from Mayer’s reporting, that the Koch brothers have personally given over $2 million to candidates over the last 12 years, their PAC has contributed $8 million to candidates, and they have spent $50 million on lobbying. The Charles Koch Foundation has given $48 million, and another foundation they control gave $28 million. David Koch’s foundation gave more than $120 million. According to Mayer, $196 million dollars in total was distributed in the last 10 years to conservative causes and institutions.

    That all, as they say, is not chicken feed, and it begs the question: How in the heck did they stay under the radar for as long as they did?

    Part of the reason is that much of what they did was not reportable but, more important, until recently they were not pouring the millions into campaigns through advertising and expenditures allowed due to the Citizens United Supreme Court case. [Read the U.S. News debate: Is the Citizens United decision hurting democracy?]

    Now, to the paranoia. These folks would make Richard Nixon’s enemies list look tame. This could be a movie akin to George Clooney’s Michael Clayton.

    This past weekend the Koch brothers hosted a conference in Palm Springs that resembled an armed camp. Private Koch security was everywhere—manning every doorway and stairway within range of the conference. Reporters were confronted by private security guards and told to leave or they would be arrested, and a Common Cause official had his lunch reservation canceled and was told to check out of the hotel by Koch’s security detail. Young environmental activists were slapped with $100,000 law suits for demonstrating and engaging in pranks. A Politico reporter describes being thrown out and threatened with “a night in the Riverside County jail.”

    All this while hiring an army of lawyers, PR flacks, political consultants, and pollsters to protect their “empire.” Everywhere there were folks spinning. Even reporters, who had been paid by Koch, attended the conference to “report” on what they “learned.” Well, Lord knows they have the money.


    The Koch brothers: Do They Buy Influence?

    Excerpts from an article at guardian.co.uk by Paul Harris on Friday April 8, 2011

    Go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/apr/08/koch-brothers-lobbying for the entire article.

    Over the past year, the elderly brothers who are head of the vast Koch Industries business empire, have occupied top spot in the demonology of the left.  They are considered somewhat Satanic in their activities.

    From the birth of the Tea Party, to undermining unions in Wisconsin, to opposing efforts to curb global warming they are believed by many Democrats to be forever lurking behind the headlines.

    Recently the Washington-based watchdog Centre for Public Integrity in an investigative article, has detailed the Kochs' vast political and lobbying operations. It is a sobering and deeply disturbing read. After all, it is one thing to believe that the devil actually exists, but reading the CPI report feels a little like being given his phone number.

    The sums of money spent in furthering Koch (pronounced like the drink coke, no matter how tempting it is to rhyme it with rock) interests and power are staggering. But what is most disturbing is how rapidly they are growing. In 2004, the CPI found, the Kochs spent a "mere" $857,000 on lobbying. In 2008, that had grown to $20m dollars. Over the next two years, they then spent a further $20.5m.

    The causes are varied but self-centred around the vital interests of Koch Industries such as oil, energy, chemicals and financial products. Employing no less than 30 lobbyists in Washington, Koch Industries has lobbied to change more than 100 pieces of federal legislation. They included trying to loosen regulations on potentially poisonous substances like dioxins, benzene and asbestos. They have pushed back against restrictions on carbon emissions and funded thinktanks and groups that promote efforts to discredit climate change science. They tried to soften attempts at financial reform where the Kochs operate in the derivatives market. Wherever a law touched on a Koch corporate interests, there were the company's lobbyists trying to gut, deaden or defeat any attempt at regulation.

    The Kochs defenders argue that none of this should be surprising. The Kochs are fiercely political libertarians and thus believe much of government is wrong and that companies should be freed from the shackles of regulation. They openly fund libertarian organisations and, surely, have every right to promote their political ideology in any (legal) way they can. Just as every other American does.

    That is true. Or at least it would be if the Kochs' activities were consistent with their proclaimed ideology. But the genius of the CPI's work is exposing that it is not. The Kochs (who, remember, oppose government intervention as anti-capitalist) should have nothing to do with the heavily subsidised ethanol industry. Yet, in fact, the Kochs are responsible for buying and marketing about one tenth of all ethanol produced in the US, effectively cashing in on government largesse. Likewise, the Kochs have vociferously opposed a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions in the US. Yet, in Europe, the Kochs make millions from trading in emissions credits.

    When fighting government regulation helps them maximise profits ? even by putting the rest of us at risk from cancer-causing chemicals ? they are all about libertarianism. Yet when government rules or subsidies provide an opportunity to make some money, that free-market ideology is quietly shelved.

    No wonder Koch lobbyists also fought for the recent tax breaks for the rich. For the Kochs (tied at 18th place in Forbes' latest rich list [
    http://www.forbes.com/wealth/billionaires/list?country=225&industry=-1&state=]) are worth $22bn apiece. The brothers must have been laughing all the way to the bank when those tax breaks got passed. Reading the CPI report, it becomes clear that the Kochs are not really ideological at all: what really motivates them is simply cold, hard cash.

    So when it comes to worrying about the Kochs' influence on the political system in the US, conservatives should really be joining liberals in getting nervous.
     


    George Soros vs Koch Brothers

    Who Really is a True Patriot of the United States and who are Traitors?

    The following Image from the other98.com web site says it all.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


     

    How Koch Industries Makes Billions Corrupting Government and Polluting for Free

    In the Wall Street Journal, responding to his critics, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch promised to continue to finance anti-government, right-wing front groups. Charles writes that the “purpose of business is to efficiently convert resources into products and services that make people’s lives better.” But when it comes to Koch’s carcinogenic pollution and carbon emissions, the purpose of Koch’s political giving is to avoid any financial responsibility — no matter who gets hurt. Koch Industries has cornered the market in monetizing some of the most dirty industrial businesses. Koch imports oil from the Middle East, refines high-carbon Canadian crude, maintains coal-burning plants, owns one of the largest oil pipeline networks in America, runs environmentally hazardous lumber mills, produces toxic chemicals, and manufacturers fertilizer. The University of Masschusetts Amherst has scored Koch as among the top ten worst air polluters for its carcinogenic chemicals.

    Also See: How Koch Industries Makes Billions by Demanding Bailouts and Taxpayer Subsidies (Part 1)

    Much of the entire Koch political machine is geared towards ensuring that Koch Industries never has to compensate the people and ecosystems damaged by Koch Industries pollution. Koch front groups — from Tea Party groups to think tanks — have diligently promoted Koch Industries’ bottom line by denying global warming, fighting regulations on Koch’s cancer-causing chemicals, and snuffing out investigations into Koch’s environmental crimes:

    In 1990, as both Republicans and Democrats proposed a cap and trade system to address acid rain, Koch financed a front group called “Concerned Citizens for the Environment” to battle proposed regulations. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the group “has no citizen membership of its own,” but produced studies arguing that acid rain was a myth and that deregulation would benefit the environment. Koch refineries and factories, top emitters of acid rain-causing toxins, were impacted by the successful cap and trade system. A front group founded by David Koch, Citizens for a Sound Economy (which later changed its name to Americans for Prosperity), also battled regulations designed to combat acid rain, labeling the problem a “myth.”

    – Koch Industries vastly expanded its political giving in reaction to revelations that the company had systematically stolen oil from Native American reservations and federal lands. Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS), a personal friend of the Koch brothers and top recipient of Koch money, sponsored legislation to suppress an investigation into the oil thefts. Over 50 Koch Industries employees later testified that indeed the “Koch Method” of manipulating data to surreptitiously take Native American oil resulted in an estimated 300 million gallons of oil the company received for free. Koch later settled for $25 million in penalties.

    – Between 1995 and 1997 there were over 300 reported oil spills at pipelines owned and operated by Koch, which caused an estimated three million gallons of oil into lakes and streams in six states. David Koch helped Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) raise over $150,000 for his campaign, and was rewarded with Dole-sponsored legislation that would have helped Koch Industries avoid serious penalties for the oil spills. On January 13, 2000, the government settled that case for $35 million in fines.

    – In 1997, the EPA proposed strengthening rules governing air pollution, regulating particles from coal plants and industrial plants which cause tens of thousands of premature deaths a year. Again, because Koch’s factories were impacted by the regulations, Koch-funded front groups sprung into action. Koch’s Citizens for a Sound Economy front group ran ads claiming (Koch Industries created) particle pollution isn’t harmful. One ad featured a ”pediatrician” who says increased rates of asthma are not caused by the toxic particles, but rather by “dust mites, stuff like that.” Another ad from CSE claimed the EPA regulations would ban fireworks and backyard grills. ”Imagine that,” the ad stated, ”a new government regulation that takes away our freedom to, huh, celebrate our freedom.”

    – Koch funneled large amounts of donations into electing George Bush in 2000 (even sending Koch-linked lobbyists to help disrupt the Florida recount). At the time, Koch Industries faced a 97-count federal indictment charging it with concealing illegal releases of 91 metric tons of benzene, known to cause leukemia, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. When Bush took office, his Justice Department dropped 88 of the charges and settled the case for a small amount of money.

    – As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has reported, Koch Industries emits over 300 million tons of greenhouse gases a year. That is why, as a Greenpeace study has found, Koch Industries has pumped about $50 million into dozens of front groups denying the existence of climate change. To block EPA regulations of Koch’s carbon pollution, Koch fronts, like Americans for Prosperity, the Hot Air Tour, and the Regulation Reality Tour, have expanded their lobbying to children.

    – Investigations by the Los Angeles Times and the Wonk Room have found that the House Republican push to neuter the EPA is largely coordinated by Koch lobbyists. Koch front groups helped elect the new Republican Congress, and have closely worked with the new Republican chair of the Energy and Commerce committee, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). Koch allies in Congress have passed amendments to gut the EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, enforce the Clean Air Act, and even monitor other air and water pollutants. They also cut funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

    – One Koch front, the “No Climate Tax Pledge,” has successfully manipulated the Republican primary process by demanding that Republicans sign a pledge against supporting clean energy solutions. This pernicious political ploy, along with millions in Koch campaign donations, has resulted in the majority of the Republican caucus now doubting the science underpinning climate change.

    After a lobbying campaign waged by Koch fronts Americans for Prosperity, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, and others to stop federal action on climate change, Koch fronts have worked to decimate state-level efforts to curb carbon emissions. As ThinkProgress first reported, Koch fronts were at the forefront of an effort last year to repeal California’s landmark clean energy law. Currently, Koch fronts, including the State Policy Network and the American Legislative Exchange Council, are working to revoke the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in New England.

    – Koch Industries is one of the largest producers of formaldehyde, a chemical that “several major scientific studies have concluded” causes cancer in human beings. Koch’s conservative front groups have battled proposed regulations on formaldehyde, and David Koch used his position on the National Institutes of Health to try to stop the EPA from classifying it as a “known carcinogen” in humans.

    Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) demand that he be allowed to sell off Wisconsin’s state owned power plants with no-bid contracts has fueled suspicion that Koch Industries might take advantage of the deal, especially given Koch’s support for the Walker campaign and his current power grab. But the more dangerous Koch Industries kickback from Walker is likely to be from his administration’s approach to environmental regulations. Koch owns several Georgia Pacific plants along the Fox River near Green Bay. These plants are notorious for dumping thousands of pounds of toxic waste into the river, so it is discouraging that Walker’s administration has indicated that it will rollback environmental safeguards. If Walker allows Koch to pollute Wisconsin’s waterways, he is risking the lives and health of Wisconsin’s people.

    In his book, the Science of Success, Charles pays tribute to libertarian scholar F.A. Hayek as one his role models. But Hayek famously wrote that pollution should be regulated not only for the “owner of the property in question or to those who are willing to submit to the damage,” but for society at large.

    As one of the leading sources of carcinogenic chemicals and greenhouse gases, Koch’s financing of anti-regulation front groups is a back-door lobbying attempt to avoid having to pay for Koch Industries’ pollution. Refusing to pay for pollution is the core of the Koch business, and allows the company to make billions in illegitimate profits. Moreover, a business refusing to pay for its own pollution violates true libertarian principles. 


    Greenpeace Unmasks Koch Industries' Funding of Climate Denial Industry

    Excerpts from an article posted: March 30, 2010 on huffingtonpost.com by Brendan DeMelle, Freelance writer and researcher 

    Koch Industries has “become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition,” spending over $48.5 million since 1997 to fund the climate denial machine, according to an extensive report today by Greenpeace. 

    The
    Greenpeace report reveals how Koch Industries and the foundations under its control spent far more than even ExxonMobil in recent years to fund industry front groups opposed to clean energy and climate policies.  Koch spent over half the total amount -nearly $25 million - funding climate denier groups from 2005 to 2008, a period in which Exxon only spent $8.9 million.

    Greenpeace’s attempt to lift the veil of secrecy inherent to a private company like Koch Industries is no easy task.  Because it remains privately owned, Koch faces few of the disclosure requirements designed to increase transparency among publicly-traded companies.

    That intentional secrecy allows
    Koch Industries, the second-largest privately-held company in the United States, to fly largely below the public’s radar.  Few Americans have likely heard of Koch, even though it operates crude oil refineries and pipelines across North America and owns such well-known consumer brands as Dixie cups, Brawny and Quilted Northern paper products, Stainmaster carpet, CoolMax and Lycra.

    The company’s founder, Fred Koch, who once earned $5 million building oil refineries in the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin’s reign, was a co-founder of the libertarian John Birch Society.   Charles G. and David H. Koch, two of Fred’s four sons, each now own 42% of the company’s stock.  According to 2009 Forbes rankings, the Koch brothers are tied for the 19th-richest person in the world, and for ninth-richest American, each worth between $14 and $16 billion, more than George Soros or the founders of Google.

    The Koch brothers use three foundations to spread Koch Industries’ influence, including support for roughly 40 organizations that doubt or downplay climate change or otherwise oppose policy solutions to build a clean energy future.  Greenpeace also notes that Koch Industries has been the largest oil and gas industry contributor to electoral campaigns since the 2006 election cycle, and its done its fair share of
    lobbying as well.  During the 2008 elections, Koch Industries contributed over $1.8 million, 88% to Republican candidates. Koch’s political action committee (PAC) also spent more than $2.5 million on contributions to federal candidates for that period, more than any other oil-and-gas sector PAC.

    Koch Industries has bankrolled Americans for Prosperity to the tune of over $5 million since 2005.  AFP – known primarily for its role in organizing the tea party movement in the U.S. – brought notorious climate denier Lord Christopher Monckton to the Copenhagen climate summit as its
    guest speaker.  Despite Lord Monckton’s reprehensible behavior in Copenhagen – where he repeatedly compared college students advocating for a clean energy future to “Hitler Youth” and “Nazis” – Americans for Prosperity continues to host Monckton at its events in the United States, including a recent appearance in Wisconsin

    While in Wisconsin on AFP’s dime, Monckton booked a side gig at a GOP fundraiser where he
    described President Barack Obama as a “monster.”  I wonder if David Koch – the second richest man in New York behind Michael Bloomberg - is even aware that Koch’s funding of AFP is in part providing support for Monckton to run around the world labeling American college students “Hitler Youth” and calling the President of the United States a “monster”?

    Koch was also one of the funders of the 2007 polar bear junk science “study” authored by prominent climate deniers (including
    Sallie Baliunas, David Legates and Tim Ball) that claimed to prove that polar bear populations were not affected by anthropogenic climate disruption in the Arctic.  Dr. Willie Soon, one of the non-peer-reviewed paper’s authors, disclosed in the acknowledgements section that he had received direct corporate funding for the work, stating “W. Soon’s effort for the completion of this paper was partially supported by grants from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, American Petroleum Institute, and Exxon-Mobil Corporation.”

    Although the paper was thoroughly debunked by actual experts on Arctic sea ice and polar bears, many of the front groups funded by Koch and Exxon rebroadcast the study widely, creating public confusion.  The matter came to a head when
    Sarah Palin and her officers in the Alaskan government referenced the Soon/Baliunas polar bear paper before it was even published in Alaska’s formal protest of efforts to protect the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.  Both Soon and Baliunas have served as spokespeople, advisors and/or board members of multiple Koch-funded climate denial groups over the past decade.

    The Greenpeace report notes Koch’s role in funding the Institute for Energy Research, which was behind the
    Danish study that attacked the viability of wind power.  Greenpeace also points out the role that Koch’s web of climate denier groups played in supporting, disseminating and promoting the Spanish study attacking green jobs, including AFP, IER and the Heritage Foundation.

    Greenpeace has helped to shed some much-needed light on Koch Industries with this report, providing several case studies, a detailed look at lobbying and campaign expenditures, and other little known facts about the Koch Brothers’ web of front groups. 

    If you thought you knew everything about anti-science front groups from hearing about ExxonMobil’s efforts over the years, think again.  This expose of Koch Industries serves up a heaping pile of unsavory evidence that the climate denial industry is alive and well-funded, even with the scaling back of ExxonMobil’s support.

    More attention needs to be paid to Koch Industries, and this report will hopefully encourage deeper investigation into the Koch web’s confusion campaign.

    Follow Brendan DeMelle on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bdemelle


    Hackers Vs. Billionaires: Anonymous Takes Down Koch-Supported Websites Amid Wisconsin Protests

    Excerpts from an article posted by Andy Greenburg on forbes.com Feb. 28, 2011

     

    The hacker collective Anonymous may have just made its highest net-worth enemies yet. In the midst of the weekend’s protests in support of Wisconsin’s public employees, the group declared war on the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, taking down two Koch-backed sites with cyberattacks and calling for a boycott on companies in which the brothers have invested.

    Anonymous laid out its grievances against the billionaire duo, tied for fifth on Forbes’ list of the richest Americans with a combined wealth of $43 billion, in a statement that tied them to the bill that aims to end collective bargaining rights for state employees in Wisconsin.

    On Sunday night, both the website of Koch-backed antiregulatory group Americans For Prosperity and a community forum site for Koch-backed toilet paper company Northern Quilt were down (at least every time I checked) for more than five hours under cyberattacks from Anonymous.

    “It has come to our attention that the brothers, David and Charles Koch–the billionaire owners of Koch Industries–have long attempted to usurp American Democracy,” reads the statement. “Their actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin are the final straw. Starting today we fight back.” The statement goes on to accuse the brothers of creating fake grassroots groups to oppose the unions in order to cheaply gain a monopoly on Wisconsin’s power utilities.

    The statement also called for boycotts on U.S. brands including Dixie, Brawny and Angel Soft.

    Back in the offline world, more than 100,000 Wisconsinites have taken to the streets in Madison and some continue to occupy the State’s capitol building.

    The attack on the Tea-Party-associated Koch brothers is the latest in Anonymous’ increasingly political actions, and not one that all members of the group seem to support. One member of the group who says he was associated with the earlier hack of security firm HBGary told me via instant message that he wasn’t involved with the Koch takedown, and that proposals to attack the Tea Party have been unpopular within the group’s ranks. A blog post about another Anonymous threat to take down Tea-Party-related websites posted to AnonNews.org was ranked among the least popular on the site.

    “Anonymous does not approve,” wrote one user on the site. Another questioned whether the Tea Party might not have some ideals in common with the libertarian hacker collective. “Interestingly the rank and file of the [Tea Party] probably share similar views as we do in relation to many aspects of freedom, it seems they are co-opted by business at the top levels but not lower down at all,” writes the anonymous commenter. “Makes me wonder if hitting the baggers is more useful than trying to steal them from big business.”


    The Brothers Koch and the Battle of Wisconsin

    Excerpts from an article posted on forbes.com by Osha Davidson on Feb. 23, 2011

    Bush and Wicca and Doreen Valiente  In Politics, there are three kinds of lies: "Lies, Damn Lies, and Republican Claims"

     

    According to Wisconsin’s Capital Times reporter, Judith Davidoff, Koch Industries has opened a lobbying office that’s just a stones throw from the state capital in Madison. (Koch’s Georgia-Pacific runs several paper manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin.)

    Koch’s lobbying arm (Koch Companies Public Sector) actually set the ball rolling two days after newly-elected Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker was inaugurated. But, the controversial billionaire Koch brothers (Charles and David) are no newcomers to this (tea)party. Koch was the single largest corporate contributor to Walker’s campaign — and even that contribution was chump-change compared to the aid given Walker by Kochs’ PAC and their “grassroots” organization, Americans for Prosperity (AFP),  according to a recent article in Mother Jones magazine.

    The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

    AFP’s help includes organizing pro-Walker rallies (and busing-in supporters), a Stand With Walker website, and policy advice. The New York Times reports today that AFP brass “worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown,” and cites AFP president Tim Phillips as their source.

    A union showdown is exactly what’s going on now in what could be called the Battle of Wisconsin, as Governor Walker seeks to end collective bargaining for public employee unions. It’s a goal near and dear to the brothers Koch.

    The billionaire brothers whose political action committee gave Gov. Scott Walker $43,000 and helped fund a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against his opponent during the 2010 gubernatorial election have quietly opened a lobbying office in Madison just off the Capitol Square.

    Go: to Koch brothers quietly open lobbying office in downtown Madison.


    Koch Brothers Behind Wisconsin Effort To Kill Public Unions

    Excerpts from an article posted on forbes.com by Rick Ungar on Feb. 18 2011

    As the nation focuses on the efforts of Governor Scott Walker to take away collective bargaining rights from public employees in Wisconsin, new information is coming to light that reveals what is truly going on here.

    Mother Jones is reporting that much of the funding behind the Walker for Governor campaign came from none other than uber-conservatives, the infamous Koch Brothers.

    What’s more, the plan to kill the unions is right out of the Koch Brothers play book.

    Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado;

    Via Mother Jones

    If you are reluctant to believe that this is a coordinated attack, consider this-

    This afternoon, Marty Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin Public Workers Union, sent a message to the Governor’s office agreeing to the cuts to pension & welfare benefits sought by Walker in his bill.  The governor’s response was “nothing doing.”  He wants the whole kit and kaboodle – the end of the collective bargaining rights of the public unions.

    As noted in my earlier post, this is, indeed, the first shot in the final battle to end unionism in America.

    UPDATE: The Americans for Prosperity group, a Tea Party group that is a Koch Brothers front, has put up a website and petition called www.standwithwalker.com. The website attacks all collective bargaining – not just for public employees’ unions. Americans for Prosperity is also organizing a rally tomorrow in Wisconsin to support Gov. Walker.

    Why are the Koch Brothers so interested in Wisconsin? They are a major business player in the state.

    This from Think Progress:

    Koch owns a coal company subsidiary with facilities in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan; six timber plants throughout the state; and a large network of pipelines in Wisconsin. While Koch controls much of the infrastructure in the state, they have laid off workers to boost profits. At a time when Koch Industries owners David and Charles Koch awarded themselves an extra $11 billion of income from the company, Koch slashed jobs at their Green Bay plant:

    Officials at Georgia-Pacific said the company is laying off 158 workers at its Day Street plant because out-of-date equipment at the facility is being replaced with newer, more-efficient equipment. The company said much of the new, papermaking equipment will be automated. [...] Malach tells FOX 11 that the layoffs are not because of a drop in demand. In fact, Malach said demand is high for the bath tissue and napkins manufactured at the plant.

    You really have to wonder how long it will take for Tea Party devotees to realize just how badly they are being used.

     


    Protesters Target Koch Brothers’ Secretive ‘Billionaires Caucus’

    An excerpt from an article posted on forbes.com by Clare O'Conner on Jan. 18 2011

     

    Charles Koch

    For four days at the end of January 2011, Charles and David Koch — America’s richest brothers, and notorious underwriters of the right-wing —  convened a group of influential Republican donors in Palm Springs to develop their plan of attack for the 2012 elections. When the Kochs and their friends arrived at Rancho Mirage, they were greeted by protesters who believe the government has been hijacked by the self-interests of the rich.

    “Our take is that Americans are suffering,” said Mary Boyle of Common Cause, the public interest nonprofit hosting the ‘Uncloak the Kochs‘ rally on Jan. 30. “They’re out of jobs, losing their homes, unable to afford health care and worried about the future. Meanwhile, an elite few like the Kochs are taking tighter control of our government by tapping vast corporate profits to influence public policy.”

    Part of Common Cause’s agenda: pushing for campaign finance reform, so the Koch brothers and their ultra-rich peers can no longer get away with anonymous spending. Boyle cited the midterm elections, when the Kochs spent untold millions on right-wing candidates and causes. Publicly, only about $3.9 million can be traced to the brothers, some of it via their oil conglomerate Koch Industries. However, they may have given far more: the advocacy group David founded, Americans For Prosperity, gave $45 million towards Republican candidates and causes, but senate legislation means the group isn’t required to disclose its donors. (David was at the opening of Congress earlier this month to witness the results of AFP’s contributions.)

    Common Cause’s invitation for the rally refers to the Kochs’ event as ‘The Billionaires Caucus’, and if the guest list from their last meeting is any indication, it will indeed be a Who’s Who of Forbes 400 power players. According to a letter Charles Koch sent out to invitees, the last summit was attended by Phil Anschutz, Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman, Amway’s Rich DeVos, Citadel’s Ken Griffin, and Ken Langone, Home Depot’s original investment banker.


    If you've never heard of Charles or David Koch, I wouldn't blame. While they do run the second largest private company in the US, they don't spend much money advertising the fact.

    These oil barons do however spend a lot of money every year on organizations like Americans for Prosperity who attack the science of climate change and deny that it is happening.

    Here's a backgrounder on Koch
    just released yesterday by Climate Science Watch.

    And here's Greenpeace's "Climate Crime Unit" on the hunt for Charles and David Koch:

     

     

     

    Rep. Don Young of Alaska

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