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The Long Tentacles of The “Koch-topus”
I enjoy PBS’s weekly science documentary NOVA -- well-conceived, well reported, well produced. The series makes an important contribution to the people’s understanding and importance of scientific inquiry. I recommend it highly. Next time you view Nova, take note of the series’ contributors. They include Howard Hughes Medical Center, Franklin Templeton Investments, and a single individual named David H. Koch. Most viewers let the credits slide by. Few bother to think about donor Koch, let alone how to pronounce the name: Kotch or perhaps Kosh? The name of the seemingly enlightened Mr. Koch, actually pronounced like the soft drink, “Coke,” has little to do with the drink--ORr with scientific advancement. But, as principal funders of the Tea Party movement, their Trojan horse inside the federal government, David and his brother Charles have everything to do with the libertarian hijacking of the Republican Party and its right-wing propaganda and agitation network, through their lead sponsorship of the Tea Party It's their Trojan horse inside Party and the federal government. Together the Kochs form the wealthiest individual opposition to enlightened democratic governance.
Among David and Charles are leaders of the American confederation of wealth, private and corporate. The Kochs are among the wealthiest men in America. They sponsor twice-yearly conventions of the wealthy to discuss strategy and action on protecting American free enterprise and the gaining and retaining of unfettered wealth. Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have attended some of these events. These two members of the highest court in America are objects of controversy over conflicts of interest at the highest levels of the federal judiciary, over their affirmative role in the Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates to unlimited political contributions by corporate sources and the likes of the Kochs.
Their fortune derives from ownership of the second largest privately-held company in America. The annual revenues of Koch Industries top $100 billion. In the decade between 1998 and 2008, their combined foundations alone injected nearly $200 million into the political bloodstream, more than 90 per cent of it to Republican and right-wing causes. As of September 2011, according to Open Secrets.org, a major tracker of campaign funds, Koch interests have already injected $117 million into political action just this year.
An investigative article in the The New Yorker Magazine by Jane Mayer in its Aug. 30, 2010 issue reported that the political activities of the Koch Brothers are so wide and varied that they are referred to as the “Koch-topus.” These wholly self-interested activities are devoted to protecting the source of their largesse, Koch Industries, Inc. of Wichita, Kansas. It is an oil refiner, maker of chemical and paper products, and a lead investor in the development of Canadian tar sands for oil and gas. Plans call for much of the crude oil to be delivered to the end of the planned and controversial Keystone XL Pipeline at the Kochs’ refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. The pipeline project awaits the approval of the Obama Administration, even as the Kochs pour campaign cash into the coffers of the presidential campaign of Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas. It’s no coincidence that Perry, whose state has just recorded the hottest summer of any state, along with drought and raging fires, declares that global warming remains unproven by scientists. Koch Industries paid one of the largest fines for environmental pollution by the EPA. Little wonder that the activities of the brothers are dedicated to the protection of Koch Industries and their income stream. According to SourceWatch.com, between 2006 and 2006 alone, Koch Industries paid out nearly $38 million for lobbying on oil and energy issues.—second only to Exxon-Mobil. They focus on rolling back EPA regulations, and undermining issues dealing with climate change, as well and blocking carbon-emission reduction. Employing a domestic workforce of 50,000, the Kochs are the lead patrons of efforts in Wisconsin and elsewhere to deprive labor unions of collective bargaining rights. Concerned over having to pay any taxes, they oppose providing their cash for dealing with issues of public need and betterment. Source Watch cites an article in the Nation magazine of April 20, in which Koch Industries sent an urgent letter to thousands of its American employees advising them on how and for whom to vote. The letter “warned about the dire consequences to their families, their jobs and their country should they choose to vote otherwise." At the secret meeting of their confederation of American wealth, in Colorado this June, Charles Koch referred to President Obama as “Saddam Hussein,” saying that the right had to “fight the mother of all wars.” He urged his wealthy attendees to contribute generously to Obama’s defeat.
Concerned over the principle of taxation, the Kochs oppose devoting any of their cash for purposes of dealing with issues of public need and betterment. Thus, by fostering his image as one of America’s leading patrons of the arts (renovating Lincoln Center’s Opera Theatre, where the Met performs. modernizing the National Museum of Natural History in Washington), David Koch’s generosity toward the arts disguises his disagreement with the late Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that “Taxation is the price we pay to live in a civilized society.” In this context, while David Koch underwrites PBS’s science journal Nova, which treats issues of science and medicine, the Kochs are among the leaders of the campaign to repeal the Obama healthcare plan, not to mention green energy.
The Kochs are leaders in agitation and propaganda activities on a veritable rainbow of issues. They are principal funders of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) of Washington, D.C., the lead organization on voter-suppression of Democratic voters in the 2012 elections, Their well-paid mandarins in Washington direct the voting activities of Tea Party members of Congress on repeal of the Obama health plan. Tea Partiers in Congress also led the destructive campaign against raising the debt ceiling.
It is worrying, to say the least, that just two men so profoundly affect the lives and the governing of a nation of 312 million people.
But as Robert Welch of the John Birch Society, founded in part by the father of the Koch Brothers, declared: “It isn’t numbers we have to worry about, but the courage on the part of our followers to stick their necks out and play rough.”