Monday, June 17, 2019

Talking Points

A NationofChange Exclusive Column


The Real Threat to America (Hint: It’s Not Socialism)

According to leaked documents that show one year of his tax returns, Trump could have made over $50 million a year for nearly two decades and paid nothing in federal taxes.

Yesterday’s headline news conveys more evidence of the impending collapse of the American republic. The focus of the latest red alert is the threat of a hostile takeover directed at the only remaining independent branch of the U.S. federal government. The threat comes from a fifth column intent upon seizing power in a nonviolent coup and then shredding what remains of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Specifically, the Koch brothers reportedly plan to spend nearly $900 million in 2016 to keep control of  Congress and get a conservative elected president.  Nine hundred million dollars is a sum roughly equivalent to what each of the two major political parties plans to spend.

In a sense, we will have three major “parties” in 2016 – the Republicans, Democrats, and the Koch brothers.  We’ll call the latter the Koch Brothers Party, or KBP (any resemblance to the old Soviet KGB is purely coincidental). Unlike the Republicans and Democrats, however, the KBP will not be accountable for anything that happens after the election, for any bad laws or policy disasters, for another 2008 Wall Street meltdown or whatever.

Also, because the Kochs are very much a party in our elections but do not field KBP candidates, they can and do operate through one of the two traditional political parties. It’s easy to criticize, but just try to imagine for a moment what it’s like to be them.

Would you want a partner that is difficult to manipulate, whose candidates and constituencies think for themselves and who are too finicky about…oh, you know…a foolish consistency and other such hobgoblins?  Or would you more likely be drawn to a political party whose leading lights have a proven record of stone-cold cynicism? One that has shown itself time and again to care little for arguments based on compassion, evidence, or logic. Above all, the one that can be bought off and trusted to stay bought.

Everybody knows where the Koch brothers money is going to be invested, which political party and what kind of candidates within that party will receive the biggest KBP  bribes (c’mon, let’s stop calling them “contributions”). We don’t have to mention any names or sling mud – let’s not imitate Fox News, okay?

Let’s just stick to the facts.  In 2008, according to a story at Bloomberg.com, a unit of Koch Industries Inc. sent compliance officer and ethics manager, Ludmila Egorova-Farines, to investigate a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. The newly hired compliance officer was conscientious, discovered that starting in 2002 the subsidiary had paid bribes to secure contracts in six countries, and promptly notified her bosses in Wichita, Kansas. A team of investigators verified what Egorova-Farines had found and Koch Industries acknowledged “violations of criminal law” in a letter dated December 8, 2008.

Bloomberg:

“Egorova-Farines wasn’t rewarded for bringing the illicit payments to the company’s attention. Her superiors removed her from the inquiry in August 2008 and fired her in June 2009, calling her incompetent, even after Koch’s investigators substantiated her findings. She sued Koch-Glitsch in France for wrongful termination.”

Also, noteworthy is the fact that, “Koch Industries is obsessed with secrecy, to the point that it discloses only an approximation of its annual revenue — $100 billion a year — and says nothing about its profits.”

Keep in mind that we are talking about a political force in U.S. elections that dollar-for-dollar bids fare to be the equal of the two major political parties, parties that, unlike the KBP, voters can reward or punish at the polls and which, in theory are accountable to the electorate. And therein lies the problem – and a bunch of troubling questions:

Question #1

Are elections a true test of anything in America anymore?

Question #2

Can voters expect politicians or “experts” beholden to billionaires to tell the truth about anything?

Question #3

Is the integrity of the process at the very heart of this republic not now so compromised as to be a farce?

Question #4

Can a party “obsessed with secrecy” be expected to care about transparency – a euphemism for honesty and integrity – in a government it has bought and paid for?

Question #5

Would sane law-abiding citizens vote for a party bearing the name of an individual who once ran for nation’s second highest office pledging to abolish Social Security, the Federal Reserve System, welfare, and the minimum wage, among other wacky extremist proposals?

Question #6

Should a company that has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. State Department calls an “active state sponsor of terrorism”, be allowed to participate in any way, shape, or form in the U.S. electoral process?

Also, noteworthy are allegations that Koch Industries Inc. has also repeatedly made improper payments to win business in Africa, India, and the Middle East – charges the Kochs have  not challenged in the courts.

The Koch brothers are flaming libertarians who love the “free market” and hate government regulation.  It’s okay for them to interfere with the “invisible hand” in the marketplace and to corrupt the political process because we can trust them to do what’s best for the country, see?

The guy we can’t trust is Barack Obama. The same Obama who twice won a clear majority in a national elections despite having to run against Republican candidates who received truckloads of cash from the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, Sheldon Adelson, et al, not to mention being subjected to a torrent of racist slurs, slander, innuendos, lies, and misrepresentations on Fox News.

We’re talking about the President of the United States, folks. Question: What kind of patriotic Americans would refuse to treat a sitting president with respect? Answer: Subversive ones.

The Cold War is history now.  The world has changed.  It is no less dangerous than it was when the hammer and sickle were hated symbols of an ideology we equated with evil, but the dangers are different.

In retrospect, the danger of subversion in the early days of the Cold War was exaggerated. Ironically, today it is underrated.  Bottom line: The KBP and what it stands for poses a far greater threat to the “American way of life” than Communism ever did.

On a happier note, it’s possibly that when the all the votes are counted the Koch brothers will have wasted a big chunk of that $900 billion they intend to spend in 2016  to buy the White House – the only part of the government they still don’t own.  Let’s hope so.

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