Published: Thursday 6 December 2012
Yes, America does face a cliff — not a fiscal cliff but a set of precipices we’ll tumble over because the GOP’s obsession over government’s size and spending has obscured them.

 

The “fiscal cliff” is a a metaphor for a government that no longer responds to the biggest challenges we face because it’s paralyzed by intransigent Republicans, obsessed by the federal budget deficit, and overwhelmed by big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires.

If we had a functional government America would address three “cliffs” posing far larger dangers to us than the fiscal one:

The child poverty cliff.

Between 2007 and 2011, the percentage of American school-age children living in poor households grew from 17 to 21%. Last year, according to the Agriculture Department, nearly 1 in 4 young children lived in a family that had difficulty affording sufficient food at some point in the year.

Yet federal programs to help children and lower-income families – food stamps, aid for poor school districts, Pell grants, child health care, child nutrition, pre- and post-natal care, and Medicaid – are being targeted by the Republican right. Over 60 percent of the cuts in the GOP’s most recent budget came out of these programs.

Even if these programs are preserved, they don’t go nearly far enough. But the Obama Administration doesn’t talk about reducing poverty in America. It talks only about preserving the middle class.

Yet unless we focus on better schools, better health, and improved conditions for these poor kids and their families, in a few years America will have a significant population of under-educated and desperate adults.

The baby-boomer healthcare cliff.

Healthcare costs are already 18% of GDP. Between now and 2030, when 76 million boomers join the ranks of the elderly,those costs will soar. This is the principal reason why the ...

Published: Tuesday 6 November 2012
Published: Tuesday 23 October 2012
With climate change already contributing to 400,000 deaths each year and costing $1.2 trillion to economies worldwide, such dubious doubt-peddling should be considered criminal.

The octopus has a remarkable ability - it can blend seamlessly with its surroundings changing its appearance to mimic plants, rocks or even other animals.

Similarly deceptive is an upcoming junk study from a Koch-funded think tank that has taken on the format and appearance of a truly scientific report from the US Government, but is loaded with lies and misrepresentation of actual climate change science. The false report is a tentacle of the Kochtopus - with oil and industrial billionaires Charles and David Koch at the head.

The report’s disgraced author, Patrick Michaels, has made his largely undistinguished career shilling for fossil fuel interestes, including his stay at the Cato Institute, which published the counterfeit report. After 

Published: Sunday 21 October 2012
Corporations like Koch are legally allowed to pressure their workers to adopt their political views at the ballot box because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

 

A new exposé raises alarming questions about the ability of corporations to influence the voting decisions of their employees. In an article published by "In These Times" magazine, labor journalist Mike Elk examines the contents of a voter information packet that Koch Industries sent to tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific. The packet advised the employees on whom to vote for and warned them of the dire consequences to their families, their jobs and their country, should they choose to vote otherwise. Koch Industries is run by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Corporations like Koch are legally allowed to pressure their workers to adopt their political views at the ballot box because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Elk joins us to discuss his In These Times article, "Koch Sends Pro-Romney Mailing to 45,000 Employees While Stifling Workplace Political Speech."

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: We’re continuing our 100-city tour, back in New York. We’ll be covering the presidential debate tomorrow night at Hofstra and expanding the debate Wednesday morning on Democracy Now!, bringing third-party candidates in to respond to the very same questions that are put to the major-party candidates.

With about three weeks to go before the November election, we’re turning now to a new exposé that raises alarming questions about the ability of corporations to influence the voting decisions of their employees. In an article published by In These Times magazine, labor journalist Mike Elk examines the contents of a voter information packet that Koch Industries sent to tens of thousands of employees at its ...

Published: Saturday 25 August 2012
“The mainstream media along with a half-dozen independent fact-checking organizations and sites have called Romney on these whoppers, but to no avail. He keeps making these assertions.”

 

I’ve been struck by the baldness of Romney’s repetitive lies about Obama — that Obama ended the work requirement under welfare, for example, or that Obama’s Affordable Care Act cuts $716 billion from Medicare benefits.

The mainstream media along with a half-dozen independent fact-checking organizations and sites have called Romney on these whoppers, but to no avail. He keeps making these assertions.

Every campaign is guilty of exaggerations, embellishments, distortions, and half-truths. But this is another thing altogether. I’ve been directly involved in seven presidential campaigns, and I don’t recall a presidential candidate lying with such audacity, over and over again. Why does he do it, and how can he get away with it?

The obvious answer is such lies are effective. Polls show voters are starting to believe them, especially in swing states where they’re being repeated constantly in media spots financed by Romney’s super PAC or ancillary PACs and so-called “social welfare” organizations (political fronts disguised as charities, such as Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have set up).

Romney’s lying machine is extraordinarily well financed. By August, according to Jane Mayer in her

Published: Wednesday 22 August 2012
“Koch is building the town on his ranch in Gunnison County, Colorado.  But he has proposed highly controversial land exchanges that would swap tracts of public lands for areas that he has the rights to in order to expand his ranch and provide more privacy for the old western town.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”  A story in yesterday’s Denver Post about fossil fuel magnate William (Bill) Koch’s construction of a private old western town in Colorado provides yet another example of this truism.

Koch has built for himself:

… an unpopulated, faux Western town that might boggle the mind of anyone who ever had a playhouse. Its full-size buildings come with polished brass and carved-mahogany details and are fronted with board sidewalks and underpinned by a water-treatment system. A locked gate with guards screens who comes and goes….

Koch’s project manager has told county officials that the enclave in the middle of the 6,400-acre Bear Ranch won’t ever be open to the public. It is simply for Koch’s amusement and for that of his family and friends.

Koch is building the town on his ranch in Gunnison County, Colorado.  But he has proposed highly controversial land exchanges that would swap tracts of public lands for areas that he has the rights to in order to expand his ranch and provide more privacy for the old western town.

The “Central Rockies Land Exchange” would give Koch control of 1,800 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in exchange for various other parcels that he owns in Colorado. Local ...

Published: Tuesday 14 August 2012
“The two nonprofits had outspent all other types of outside spending groups in this election cycle, including political parties, unions, trade associations and political action committees.”

 

Two conservative nonprofits, Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, have poured almost $60 million into TV ads to influence the presidential race so far, outgunning all super PACs put together, new spending estimates show.

These nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s or c4s for their section of the tax code, don't have to disclose their donors to the public.

The two nonprofits had outspent all other types of outside spending groups in this election cycle, including political parties, unions, trade associations and political action committees, a ProPublica analysis of data provided by Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group, or CMAG, found.

Super PACs, which do have to report their donors, spent an estimated $55.7 million on TV ads mentioning a presidential candidate, CMAG data shows. Parties spent $22.5 million.

READ FULL POST 3 COMMENTS

Published: Friday 4 May 2012
“Back in October, a German state minister explained that the country could decarbonize with renewables because “We Don’t Have the … Koch Brothers.”

 

Billionaire energy investor T. Boone Pickens has a bone to pick with the country’s leading pollutocrats.

Pickens said in an interview Wednesday with Yahoo’s Daily Ticker that Koch Industries, the company owned by Charles and David Koch, is the major stumbling block to a coherent U.S. energy policy:

“The biggest deterrent to an energy plan in America is Koch Industries,” the BP Capital founder tells Yahoo’s Aaron Task. “They do not want an energy plan for America because they have the cheapest natural gas price they’ve ever had, and they’re in the fertilizer business and they’re in the chemical business. So their margins are huge. And they do not want you to have an energy plan, because if you had a plan, then natural gas prices would come up.”

Back in October, a German state minister explained that the country could decarbonize with renewables because 

Published: Monday 12 March 2012
“Some 300 uber-rich corporate plutocrats and their political hirelings have pledged at least $100 million to bombard the Obama campaign with viciously negative ads.”

It was a total lockdown. As jet after jet swept in surreptitiously with top brass and political decision-makers on board, every entrance to the site of the super-secret Coachella Valley planning summit was secured and patrolled by armed guards and helicopters.

This wasn't a clandestine gathering of America's allies in Afghanistan, but a pow-wow of some 300 über-rich corporate plutocrats and their political hirelings — all intent on obliterating President Barack Obama's re-election bid with an unprecedented deluge of viciously negative attack ads.

Hosted by the billionaire Koch brothers at the posh Renaissance Esmeralda golf resort in California's Palm Springs desert in early February, the confabulees were mobilizing and monetizing what Charles Koch called the "mother of all wars." That would be their self-proclaimed war to enthrone their ilk over workers, consumers, the environment, and democracy itself.

Who are these "warriors?" Billionaire casino baron Sheldon Adelson, Newt Gingrich's sugar daddy, jetted in — as did Rick Santorum's main money squeeze, Foster Friess, a hedge-fund richie and an extremist evangelical, as well as Mitt Romney donor Ken Griffin, a Wall Street speculator. How much monetizing of their "war" against you and me did these elites pledge? More than $100 million, including $40 million promised by Charles Koch and $20 million from his brother David.

We can thank five corporatists on the Supreme Court for enabling this elite few to put up unlimited, secret, corporate dollars to buy our democracy out from under us. They are the wealthiest .0000063 percent of Americans who — so far — have poured at least $100,000 each into SuperPACs to pervert our elections.

To help fight this corruption, go to www.United4ThePeople.org.

Published: Friday 9 March 2012
“This is an effort by the Kochs to turn the Cato Institute into some sort of auxiliary for the G.O.P.,” said Edward H. Crane, who is president of Cato and co-founded it with Charles Koch. “What he is doing now is detrimental to Cato, it’s detrimental to Koch Industries, it’s detrimental to the libertarian movement.”

A new chapter is being added to the ongoing Kochtopus saga. On March 1 the Washington Post, in a story sure to fill the airwaves for the weeks and months to come, revealed the Kochtopus is suing the Cato Institute for control of the recently deceased and former Cato Chairman William Niskanen's ownership share in the think-tank.

The Koch Empire was recently outed by DeSmogBlog as a key seed funder of the climate change denier think-tank, the Heartland Institute. Heartland's internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog (see "Heartland Exposed"). 

Billionaire oil baron Charles Koch is now waging war against another entity that was created with Koch seed money decades ago: the Cato Institute.

The Post 

Published: Wednesday 22 February 2012
“Bottom line: Whoever emerges as the GOP standard-bearer will be deeply indebted to a handful of people, each of whom will expect a good return on their investment.”

Have you heard of William Dore, Foster Friess, Sheldon Adelson, Harold Simmons, Peter Thiel, or Bruce Kovner? If not, let me introduce them to you. They’re running for the Republican nomination for president.

I know, I know. You think Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney are running. They are – but only because the people listed in the first paragraph have given them huge sums of money to do so. In a sense, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, and Romney are the fronts. Dore et al. are the real investors.

According to January’s Federal Election Commission report, William Dore and Foster Friess supplied more than three-fourths of the $2.1 million raked in by Rick Santorum’s super PAC in January. Dore, president of the Dore Energy Corporation in Lake Charles, Louisiana, gave $1 million; Freis, a fund manager based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, gave $669,000 ...

Published: Monday 20 February 2012
“Governor Walker’s defenders[...] will surely suggest that the billionaire is merely expressing his right to fund independent activities that just happen to be ‘helping’ Walker.”

 

Billionaire campaign donor David Koch, heir to a fortune and a political legacy created by one of the driving forces behind the John Birch Society, makes no secret of his enthusiasm for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

“What Scott Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He’s an impressive guy and he’s very courageous,” Koch explained in a recent conversation reported by the Palm Beach Post. “If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power.”

That’s no surprise. What is surprising is that Koch is now appears to be bragging about how he and his brother Charles are using their vast fortune to fund an independent campaign aimed at “helping” Walker. Even in an era when billionaires such as the Kochs are emerging as key financiers of Super PACS and other campaigning vehicles Koch’s admission will raise ...

Published: Thursday 2 February 2012
“Attendance by billionaire casino mogul could be indication of big conservative support to come.”

Billionaire casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson seems to be signaling his intention to plow millions more into conservative groups to influence this year’s elections, in addition to $10 million he and his wife gave a super PAC backing Newt Gingrich. For the first time, Adelson, who is worth an estimated $21.5 billion, and his Israeli born physician wife Miriam attended a mega donor conference sponsored by the billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch.

The recent gathering, a twice-a-year event that began about eight years ago, was held in late January at a resort in Palm Springs. It typically draws deep pocketed givers, a few members of Congress and conservative leaders eagerly seeking big checks for their pet projects. Fundraisers say that this year’s winter event included an appearance by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who has been a guest at other Koch events. Neither Cantor’s office nor Adelson’s press shop, responded to requests for comment.

Fundraisers familiar with Koch spending plans for this year say that the brothers and their large network of allied donors could pump as much as $200 million into electoral drives run by outside groups to help Republicans win the Senate and the White House and keep control of the House.

The Adelsons are weighing financial help to some groups that had a presence at the Koch conference but it’s unclear which ones are at the top of his prospect list, say fundraisers. Probably the most influential group that’s been at recent conferences has been Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots lobbying and political advocacy powerhouse that was started by the Koch Brothers in 2004.

Adelson has ...

Published: Tuesday 31 January 2012
“The disaster of the Gulf was only a matter of time. Now, we are being told to trust government officials once again, when they knowingly allow nonscientific personnel to make scientific decisions.”

This is a recycled piece that is still pertinent.  IN light of the situation described below there is no time to write a new piece. 

In a provocative demonstration against the tar sands, clean energy advocates poured “oil” onto a female model draped with the Canadian flag on Parliament Hill. Those pouring the oil were dressed as executives of TransCanada, the company proposing to build the Keystone XL Pipeline, which will run from the Alberta tar sands to the US Gulf Coast.

 

TransCanada, the Keystone XL Pipeline and Koch Industries

As the race to develop domestically produced fuels hits a fevered pitch, especially as a reaction to the tensions in the Middle East, politicians from the president on down are seeking a “magic pill” that will solve our energy problems. President Obama promised a “green revolution,” with hints at promising wind and solar energy sources during the campaign, but has now done one of his famous backtracks as he pushes the idea of “clean coal.” One of the alleged “clean coal” sources his administration has placed under serious consideration is “bituminous coal” (aka “unconventional petroleum deposit’), or simply put … “tar sands.” Tar sands are plentiful in the US and Canada, but environmentally treacherous to mine and transport – yet, this is the “green energy” the Obama administration has leaned toward – with heavy prodding from its most threatening political enemy, Koch Industries – disputed founders of the Tea Party movement.

 

TransCanada and Koch Industries 

Project developer TransCanada seeks approval from US government agencies to ...

Published: Saturday 21 January 2012
“The US Constitution has served us very well, but when the supreme court says, for purposes of the first amendment, that corporations are people, that writing checks from the company's bank account is constitutionally-protected speech and that attempts by the federal government and states to impose reasonable restrictions on campaign ads are unconstitutional, our democracy is in grave danger.”

The corporate barbarians are through the gate of American democracy. Not satisfied with their all-pervasive influence on our culture, economy and legislative processes, they want more. They want it all.

Two years ago, the United States supreme court betrayed our Constitution and those who fought to ensure that its protections are enjoyed equally by all persons regardless of religion, race or gender by engaging in an unabashed power-grab on behalf of corporate America. In its now infamous decision in the Citizens United case, five justices declared that corporations must be treated as if they are actual people under the Constitution when it comes to spending money to influence our elections, allowing them for the first time to draw on the corporate checkbook - in any amount and at any time - to run ads explicitly for or against specific candidates.

READ FULL POST 38 COMMENTS

Published: Friday 9 September 2011
Christie showed his “commitment to the free enterprise system” by pulling out of a market-based system invented by Republicans and economists, championed by President George H. W. Bush, and originally supported at a regional level by GOP Governors like Pataki of New York.

In late May, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced he was pulling his state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, explaining that it was “not working.”  Now a stunning tape of a secret meeting between Christie and Charles Koch sheds light on the Governor’s inexplicable decision to abandon a program that was not only cutting pollution, but was funding clean energy and, as it turns out, reducing New Jersey’s budget gap.

David Koch, introducing Christie:  Five months ago we met in my New York City office and spoke — just the two of us — for about two hours on his objectives and successes in correcting many of the most serious problems of the New Jersey state government.  At the end of our conversation, I said to myself, “I’m really impressed and inspired by this man.  READ FULL POST 17 COMMENTS

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