The Koch brothers & Koch Industries
Despicable Scum of the Week is a weekly look at a descpicable scum. This week…
The Koch brothers & Koch Industries
Horrified screams erupted from the delivery room as the mutant conjoined twins erupted from their wailing mother’s womb in a geyser of blood. The beast-baby’s savage howls could be heard throughout the dark, mostly empty private wing of the hospital as it ripped apart doctors and nurses with gleeful abandon, feasting on their flesh in a savage orgy of gore. Suddenly a great wail arose from the creature as it noticed the pentagram etched around the edges of the room. In the doorway, outside of the zone, a proud, beaming man stood, nodding approvingly at the semi-human atrocity’s carnage. “I am your father,” Fred Koch said to it, “obey me and you will know absolute power.” And the beast fell to its knees before its Master.
For years the abomination was kept chained in a deep sub-basement of the vast Koch manor; fed raw meat and the occasional virgin as needed; while an endless stream of Michael Bakunin and Frederich Von Hayek audio books and William F Buckley TV shows played overhead. When the extremely overpaid team of specially recruited doctors agreed it was time, the hideous monstrosity was separated in a feverish 72 hour operation and the two things were reconstructed into something vaguely human. Tragically the doctors realized too late that separation had not sated their unquenchable lust for human blood… but it saved their father a lot of money. No one dared question the circumstances to Fred as he introduced his 14 year old sons, David and Charles, to the world.
After many years of learning of all that would be theirs, one day Fred approached them and said, “I go now to fulfill my pact with His Satanic Majesty, which I do with honor. You have done well, my sons. Here’s a few billion dollars. Please don’t eat your sister or your other brothers.” Now, at the pinnacle of their powers, they sit upon their thrones in the massive foyer of their estate as the glowing and pulsating plants throb beside them and eager supplicants line up to accept the brothers’ blood-red gold. “Yes, touch the pod,” David intones while Charles accepts their burnt offerings, “Yesss, my preciousssssss.”
(NOT INTENDED TO BE A FACTUAL SCENARIO)
In 1997, Hillary Clinton was roundly ridiculed for her belief that a “vast Right-wing conspiracy” was working against her husband’s presidency. Twelve years later Bill Clinton himself agreed that such a conspiracy was also at work against President Obama. This time the laughter was more muted. With the rise of the Tea Party in 2008 and when the Koch-bought legion of corporate whores took over the House of Pancakes Representatives in 2010, the press finally got off of their pathetically lazy asses and started looking deeper into just what the fuck was going on. Now, fourteen years after Hillary’s initial claim, the blueprint of the vast conspiracy has been exposed with the leaking of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) documents, and the true powers of the entire corporate-Conservative movement have been revealed. Meet Koch Industries and David and Charles Koch, the men behind the curtain.
Fred Koch, an arch-libertarian and a founding member of the John Birch Society, made his fortune setting up oil refineries in Stalin’s Soviet Union in the 1930s. (The Exiled) When he died in 1967 he left his family his industrial empire. David and Charles became the de facto heads of the company, bought out their brothers’ interests and today Koch Industries is a vast conglomerate of corporate evil; comprising divisions of oil refining, coal processing, chemicals, mineral extraction, leaky pipelines, livestock, and other interests you would normally associate with Bond villains. Oh…and Dixie cups! The company has annual revenues in the area of $100 billion and, according to the Political Economy Research Institute, is one of the 10 worst polluters in America. David runs the corporation with an iron fist, Charles oversees the propaganda machine and their Smithers, Richard Fink, manages the majority of the Koch’s foundations and doles out the money.
The real power of the Koch machine is not so much in the corporation but in the brothers’ unrivaled political clout. In the oligarchy of Conservative American politics, Charles and David Koch ARE the masters of the universe. Republican senators, congressmen, governors and even state legislators flock to the brothers’ private retreats and conferences to obtain their marching orders and piles of cash. In total since 1997 Koch Industries has given over $14 million in campaign contributions and has spent over $52 million in lobbying; and that’s not counting personal spending by the brothers or their foundations. (Influence Explorer) A Greenpeace report shows that the Kochs have now spent over $55 million “funneled to climate-denial front groups,” that the brothers either finance or founded themselves. When you consider the billions in contracts, tax breaks, corporate welfare and deregulation that lobbying has produced for the conglomerate, $120 million is chump change.
You don’t amass an estimated $40 billion combined-fortune without knowing how to spot a bargain, and the Koch brothers are certainly some savvy shoppers. It only cost them $43,000 to buy Wisconsin governor and slime-bucket Scott Walker (and we’ve all seen how well that little investment has paid off) and for a mere $80,000 (plus spay/neutering fees and rabies shots) they brought their own cute little congressman, Mike Pompeo™ , to their home district of Kansas City. (David and Charles take turns walking him.) It took a paltry $2 million grant to Florida State University for Charles to gain control of the entire Economics Department; where he and his foundation are allowed to set the curriculum and have say over the department’s staffing as well. (Think Progress) As many as 30 governors nationwide are carrying out the plans laid out by the Koch-funded ALEC to destroy unions, gut regulations, decimate public spending and create incentives and tax breaks for corporations. In the Koch brothers’ world, Ayn Rand’s dreams are coming true.
Rather than cower in the basement surrounding themselves with lemures as the public begins to take heed of their dominance, in the last couple of years the brothers have begun openly gloating about their unbridled power like third-world dictators. Charles, on the company’s website, wrote “Most of these political and media attacks are, in a perverse way, an indicator that we are having a positive effect on both public awareness and policy making.” In October of 2010 Koch Industries sent an information packet to its entire US staff, espousing the virtues of Koch-backed candidates along with a healthy dose of corporate propaganda. Charles has begun hawking his insipid “Market-Based Management”® and “Science of Liberty”™ programs like 2am infomercials.
The true genius of the Koch’s strategy for Conservative rule in the US lies in its vast reach. Koch money and influence is spread through such an all-encompassing network of companies, think tanks, political leaders, universities and media lapdogs that they have effectively created truth. Consider the following scenario:
The EPA discovers dangerous levels of cadmium and lead in aquifers near the Koch Industries’ Nuclear Waste Recycling Plant and Donut Factory in Witchita Falls. EPA Administrators humbly request that the plant pay a $75 fine and maybe cut down on the cadmium and lead a little bit, please? The Koch tentacles twitch. Within days the Mercatus Center at George Mason University releases a study showing the remarkable health benefits gained by cadmium and lead in drinking water. Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham rail against the “unreasonably huge fines” imposed by the tyrannical EPA. The Independent Women’s Forum and the Center for Humane Studies release op/eds in Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers praising cadmium as “the new Penicillin,” citing the Mercatus study. George Will on Meet the Press disdainfully mocks the pathetically uninformed masses who wouldn’t know good science if they were drinking it. Florida State University releases a study of the economic benefits of lead in drinking water. Rush Limbaugh devotes 20 minutes of his radio show bragging about his increased virility after drinking cadmium and lead-laced water, “I bring extra when I go to the Dominican Republic!” Crudely hand-written signs begin popping up at Tea Party rallies proclaiming “I ♥ CADMIUM!!” The Republican-led House of Non-Representatives holds hearings, demanding to hear from Lisa Jackson why the EPA is unfairly targeting Koch with its Liberal, Socialist witch hunt. President Obama praises Republican leaders for their diligence, fires Jackson and adds that we should be studying the benefits of mercury as well. The EPA backs off, Charles Koch credits his Science of Liberty™ theories with the victory and Koch Industries starts a new and incredibly profitable division bottling cadmium and lead enhanced water. “It’s Cadmi-YUM!” (INTENDED TO BE A FACTUAL SCENARIO)
This isn’t just an oligarchy we’re dealing with, it’s a fully contained religion and Charles and David Koch are co-Popes. Welcome to the American Taliban.
Koch funded foundations and Centers of Bullshitery: (Partial list)
The Kochs and Koch Industries fund over 50 organizations, the vast majority sharing their Libertarian, Right-wing slant. Here is a brief look at some of them.
- Americans for Prosperity: One-half of the primary funders and ringmasters of the Tea Party circus.
- Charles G Koch Charitable Foundation and The Market-Based Management Institute: Mouthpiece groups for Charles’ trademarked corporate philosophies.
- The Cato Institute: The Libertarian version of the Heritage Foundation. Their homepage alone is chock-full of phrases like, “Entitlement bandits rob Social Security and Medicare,” “global warming alarmists,” and “the false promise of green energy”.
- Institute for Humane Studies: Scholarship programs and indoctrination studies for Kochler Youth. There’s some pretty scary shit on this website. They label their studies as “classic liberal,” if you can call Libertarian Theocracy “classic liberal.” Amazingly, the site doesn’t have a word about their funding sources.
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC): The Franklin/Covey of the Conservative movement. Everything they’re doing and how to do it. Just check out ALECExposed.org.
- Claude R. Lambe Foundation: No website. General listing information shows Charles Koch as the contact person. Basically a funding organization used to funnel money to Koch-backed groups. The entire Board consists of Koch family members and associates. Daily Kos estimates that the Lambe Foundation has given over $24 million to various Koch groups and $11 million alone between 2005 and 2008.
- The Reason Foundation: Advocates of “reasonable” market policies like eliminating public employee benefit plans; ten arguments against a government guarantee of housing finance; “If Obama were serious about tax reform he’d stop obsessing about corporate jets”; and plant production is more environmentally destructive than meat production. Columnists include “reasonable” pundits like John Stossel.
- The Heritage Foundation: You know it, you love it, the Right can’t live without it. Conservative America’s premier bullshit factory, largely funded by the Kochs and their foundations. Heritage Foundation fun-fact: If you want to tour the Kellogg’s Cereal Museum in Battle Creek, MI, your entry fee goes to Heritage.
- Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia: Think Progress points out that an essay in a book published by PPFWV “questions the value of ‘mandated’ mine safety laws, stating government regulations may increase accident rates.” This WV Gazette article traces the reach of this Koch-ian squid.
- Independent Women’s Forum: Little more than a blog and op/ed generator by “Independent” female writers, all of whom have Libertarian and Conservative views in lockstep with the Republican Party.
- Mercatus Center, George Mason University: One of the Koch’s pet projects. “Academic” research largely used to bolster corporate arguments and positions on issues, to give them that legitimate smell. Check out their “About” page for some hilariously misdirecting and generic descriptions of their work and funding. They are very careful to point out that they are not connected to nor use any funding from GMU but they’ll plaster the school’s name all over their studies.
- Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment: If you want to know who are the lowliest bottom-feeders spewing the most loathsome crap about the environment to the public, IT’S THESE GUYS. (Hey, if anyone reading this happens to be from Anonymous, well…I’m not saying anything, but…)
- Freedom Works: If you want an indication of what level of insects infest Freedom Works; when you click on their site you get a pop-up message from Glenn Beck. The other ring of the Tea Party circus–because the Tea party may be a bunch of drooling semi-psychopaths but they are very well funded drooling, semi-psychopaths.
- The Federalist Society: Where the elite eat the meat. If you’re at all involved with the Federalist Society, well, let’s just say you’re not reading this article. Think of it as a bunch of Yertle the Turtles sitting on their towers of lowlifes, pontificating to each other about the need to eliminate the entitlement class.
- The Competitive Enterprise Institute: (From SourceWatch): “CEI projects dispute…[that] human induced greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change. They…push property rights as a solution to environment problems, opposed US vehicle fuel efficiency standards and been a booster for the drug industry.”
Koch consumer products you might want to/can/should boycott:
- Paper products: Angel Soft; Northern; Vanity Fair; Brawny; Mardi Gras; Zee; Dixie; Sparkle; Perfect Touch; Insulair; Soft n’ Gentle; and all Georgia Pacific products
- StainMaster carpets
- Teflon products (I know, I know, good luck with that one.)
- Lycra (sorry fetishists!)
- Dacron fibers
Shut up and eat your gruel: “Recent studies show that the poorest 10% of the population living in countries with the greatest economic freedom have ten times the per-capita income of the poorest citizens in countries with the least economic freedom. In other words, society as a whole benefits from economic freedom.” –Charles, Wall Street Journal editorial.
“I played basketball when you could be white and be good.”–David, New York Magazine interview
“The radical press is coming after me and Charles. They’re using us as whipping boys.” (Ibid)
“I’ve never been to a Tea Party event. No one representing the Tea Party has ever approached me” (Ibid) Well, of course not. Do you think David Koch would want any of those people anywhere near him?
Koch’s solution to the climate crisis: “Since we can’t control Mother Nature, let’s figure out how to get along with her changes.” (Discovery, the Koch Industries newsletter)
David on climate change: “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food.” (Quoted in Rolling Stone.)
Black men scare David Koch: “Obama’s a hardcore Socialist. And he’s marvelous at pretending to be something other than that but that’s what I believe he truly is, a hardcore Socialist. He’s scary to me.”–David, New York Magazine quote.
Charles said this about Hitler, Mao and Stalin, but… “If somebody’s evil, the smarter they are, the more damage they’re going to do.” (Esquire article)
God gives Charles the tablets of Market-Based Management™: “I became convinced that it was an ordered universe. How well a society followed these laws determined the extent to which it would have peace, prosperity and progress. [I had to] …experiment with capturing the benefits and finding the mechanisms in an organization that would create the same power that private property, free exchange, the rule of law does in a society. And that’s really what the development of Market-Based Management™ involved.” (The Weekly Standard)
Boycottkochbrothers.com The first place to go when you finish reading this column.
The “Boycott Koch Industries” Facebook page.
ALECExposed.org Really, folks, it’s all HERE! Every aspect of the Conservative corporate agenda laid out in excruciating detail.
From The Exiled; A People’s History of Koch Industries, which is a hell of a lot better than this crummy column.
This New Yorker article was the springboard for this entire column. It’s a fantastic ten-page piece.
Koch Industries’ website. Enjoy.
Americans for Prosperity’s Stand with Walker webpage. Yes, it’s THAT Walker…
A Think Progress report from Truth-out.org on some of Koch’s lobbying efforts.
SourceWatch’s wiki-style Koch profile
I’m throwing in this YouTube parody of the classic Coke commercial jingle just because it’s cute.
Charles lectures America in this Wall Street Journal editorial.
Next week: The Joseph Goebbels of the American Right, Roger Ailes!