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Maybe Joe Arpaio should break up this Kochfight

Posted by Charles II on March 2, 2012

Via Avedon.

Matt Pearce, LAT:

…Charles and David Koch are taking to the courts to solve an ownership dispute involving the Cato Institute.

The president of the institute, a longtime pillar of free-market thinking in Washington — calls the move an attempt “to transform Cato from an independent, nonpartisan research organization into a political entity” with a “partisan agenda.”…

…the Kochs’ lawsuit …plunges into an internal battle over who owns 25% of the institute’s shares. The Kochs hold 50% of the shares and possibly stand to hold more if they win the suit.

The current Cato Institute was founded in, ironically enough, San Francisco in 1977, and the original began three years earlier as a Kansas nonprofit named the Charles Koch Foundation Inc.

It was recently chaired by William Niskanen, who retired in 2008 and died in October; his 25% ownership share transferred to his wife, which the Koch brothers believe under shareholders’ agreements must be sold back to the institute.

According to its latest tax filing for 2010, the Cato Institute’s four shareholders each had 25% stakes in the $52 million, 200-employee nonprofit organization.

Shares? Huh? Matt Yglesias says:

Something that was confusing me about the lawsuit between the Koch Brothers and the Cato Institute that Dave Weigel’s excellent backgrounder didn’t really explain was how is it that a 501(c)3 nonprofit like the Cato Institute has “shares” for people to be arguing over in the first place? After all, one of the rules of the game is that nobody owns nonprofits. The answer seems to be that Cato is formally organized as a membership institution that just happens to have a very small number of members. A more standard form of 501(c) organization seen in most DC think tanks is that you have no members and the board is a self-perpetuating governance body. But if you think of the “shares” at issue in the Koch/Cato lawsuit as memberships, then you can see why the legal issue arises about whether the late William Niskanen’s shares can be inhereted by his wife.

Dave Weigel, WaPo:

Eight years later [in 1985], as it relocated to Washington, a new agreement was drawn up that split the ownership of the think tank four ways: Crane, Koch, George Pearson, and William Niskanen. Each had 16 shares of the Cato Institute, $1 per share. But in 1991, as his brother David joined Cato and grabbed his own 16 shares, Charles Koch walked away.

Crane kept building Cato. Contact was severed; in a 2010 interview, Crane told me that he never quite understood why Koch bolted.

In the past, Charles Koch and his allies have criticized Cato for lacking real, provable results. Since then, David has found tremendous success with Americans for Prosperity, which in the Tea Party era evolved into one of the most powerful conservative organizations in electoral politics. (It has spent seven figures so far this year on TV ads against Barack Obama.) Draw your conclusions.

Jane Mayer, The New Yorker:

As I wrote in my New Yorker piece about the Kochs, “Though David remains on the board at Cato, Charles Koch has fallen out with Crane. Associates suggested to me that Crane had been insufficiently respectful of Charles‘s management philosophy, which he distilled into a book called “The Science of Success,’ and trademarked under the name Market-Based Management, or M.B.M.… A top Cato Institute official told me that Charles ‘thinks he’s a genius. He’s the emperor, and he’s convinced he’s wearing clothes.’ ”

Forbes has obtained the court documents here.

Posted in koch brothers, libertoonians, political purges | Comments Off

Which side are you on, Ron? Part 1

Posted by Charles II on January 19, 2012

An interesting debate began, initiated by a recent troll graduate of our School on Manners. With a national machine of committed supporters, Ron Paul could be the GOP nominee for the presidency as Santorum’s deficiencies become more obvious and the attacks on Romney continue to chip away. So, understanding who Ron Paul is in the dextro universe is starting to look like a worthwhile question to ask. Is he a populist crackpot libertarian, or is he part of the corporate-funded reactionary network exemplified by David and Charles Koch?

What seems unambiguous is that Paul is fundamentally part of what is called the paranoid right, a movement that spans from the Freemen of Montana and the Michigan Militia to the John Birch Society to Pat Robertson and on and on. The basic theme of the paranoid right is that there is a gigantic conspiracy, often dominated by shadowy forces like the Bilderbergers, the Freemasons, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations or the Communists to take away American freedoms. The completely open conspiracies, such as that of corporations to dominate speech and of Republicans to deny people the right to vote are overlooked in the quest to find a conspiracy so immense that it doesn’t quite fit into the human universe.

The evidence connecting Paul to the paranoid right is pretty straightforward.
* The content of his survivalist newsletters, such as the militant rhetoric offering to fight a war with the feds here (also notice the reference to the Trilateral Commission; see also here) or this gem about the conspiracy between USAID/OPIC/the Ex-Im Bank and “Marxist” Panamanian president Torrijos, or the claim that the US government created AIDS, or that the the Interfaith alliance is a “hit squad” with “more friends in high places than the Christian Coalition can hope for”, that NPR is a socialist enterprise. There’s a big invisible conspiracy that only Ron Paul can see, but it requires being ready to fight a war against the US government. [TNR has released more and in some ways juicier newsletters here]
* His speeches to the John Birch Society (see, for example, here).
* His early support by David Koch. David Koch’s father was a founding member of the John Birch Society, but I haven’t yet found direct connections between David Koch and the JBS; Jane Mayer presents some evidence against this, although clearly both the JBS and the Koch brothers share many ideological roots. Charles Pierce does connect the younger Kochs, but supplies no evidence.
* The involvement of Paul aides like Stewart Rhodes in second wave Patriot militias, espousing extreme anti-government rhetoric.

So, here are some resources on the Kochs, the John Birch Society, and Ron Paul.

Mike Konczal, Roosevelt Institute clearly thinks that there’s no link at all between the Kochs and Paul:

Ron Paul is holding one of his first monetary policy hearings today and he hasn’t sold out. Ron Paul is from the school of libertarians that hates D.C. libertarians, which is weird since he is one of the most well-known libertarians in D.C. How does that work?

The term Kochtopus was originally used as a slur by some libertarians to describe the Koch brothers’ funded wing of the libertarian movement (Cato, Reason, etc.). There’s a lot of fighting over ideology, purity, funding and intellectual legacies between two groups of libertarians that splintered in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and Paul is on the other side of that divide.

Daniela Perdomo, Alternet on the Tea Party attempt to bring down Ron Paul; this could be consistent with Koch influence on the Tea Party:

Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman from Texas’ Gulf Coast, faces three Republican challengers this year — more than in his six past primaries combined. All three opponents are affiliated with the Tea Party movement. What makes this so fascinating is the fact that the Tea Partiers got their unofficial start through Paul himself.

Ed Pilkington, Common Dreams comments on how the Kochs plan to flood the 2012 election with enough money to control the outcome:

The secretive oil billionaires the Koch brothers are close to launching a nationwide database connecting millions of Americans who share their anti-government and libertarian views

The voter file was set up by the Kochs 18 months ago with $2.5m of their seed money, and is being developed by a hand-picked team of the brothers’ advisers. It has been given the name Themis, after the Greek goddess who imposes divine order on human affairs.

Though the Kochs have already stamped their influence on the American right, their impact to date looks like small beer compared with their ambitious plans for 2012. According to Kenneth Vogel of Politico, the brothers intend to use their leverage among billionaire conservatives to pump more than $200m into the proceedings

Richard Matthews, Green Conduct News, however, puts Ron Paul at a Koch-sponsored event, so perhaps the animosity isn’t too extreme:

The Koch brothers have a long history of influence peddling through front groups like Americans for Prosperity (AFP), which had a role in the formation of the Tea Party. Many Republican presidential hopefuls have been in attendance at AFP events like the annual Defending the American Dream Summit. These Summits focus on issues like reversing environmental protections, preventing new environmental laws and promoting policies that benefit big oil. At the October 5, 2007 Summit, the GOP Presidential candidates who attended included John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson. The speakers that day included Herman Cain and AFP founder David Koch.

Yasha Levine, Texas Observer on the Koch brothers’ grandfather, Harry:

Little has been written about Harry Koch. He’s the least-known member of the Koch family, which has been marching under the same laissez-faire banner for the past three generations. Harry Koch emigrated to America in 1888, settled in a North Texas railroad town and became a newspaper publisher and aggressive corporate booster. He advocated for railroad and banking interests, amassing wealth and helping big business fight organized labor and squelch reforms.

Much of the Koch brothers’ ideology can be found in [their grandfather] Harry Koch’s newspaper editorials of nearly a century ago. Take, for instance, the Kochs’ current fight against Social Security. Harry Koch took part in a multi-year right-wing propaganda campaign to shoot down New Deal programs. Grandfather and grandsons employ eerily familiar talking points to bash government pension and welfare programs.

This is where the research stood two weeks ago, when other duties imposed. I’ll try to pick it up, since understanding where in the dextro universe Ron Paul stands is important to understanding the derangement that America is going through. In many ways, the current Republican candidates (Romney, Santorum, Perry, Gingrich, and Paul) clearly illustrate what the Republican party is:

* The financial corporate right (Romney) is in the driver’s seat.
* The domestic corporate right (Gingrich) is unhappy with American decline, and is therefore willing to bloody Romney
* The religious right (Santorum) and the populist/racist/xenophobic right (Perry) are in a weak position
* The paranoid right (Paul), which includes a lot of military people presumably alienated by the wars, is attracted to the corporate libertarian views of Paul.

More as I am able.

Posted in false prophets, libertoonians | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Ayn Randians to create free market paradise in Honduras

Posted by Charles II on December 9, 2011

Don’t say you weren’t warned. All of the worst ideas of the right are being tried out on hapless Third World nations like Honduras. And they’re scheduled for reimportation to a community very near you. Like your own.

Via Adrienne, an article from The Economist:

Now, for the first time, libertarians have a real chance to implement their ideas. In addition to a big special development region, the Honduran government intends to approve two smaller zones. And two libertarian-leaning start-ups have already signed a preliminary memorandum of understanding with the Honduran government to develop them.

One firm goes by the name of Future Cities Development Corporation. It was co-founded by Patri Friedman, a grandson of Milton Friedman, a Nobel laureate in economics, and until recently executive director of the Seasteading Institute, a group producing research on how to build ocean-based communes. The other is called Grupo Ciudades Libres (Free Cities Group) and is the brainchild of Michael Strong and Kevin Lyons, two entrepreneurs and libertarian activists.

Mr Strong is close to John Mackey, the co-founder and chief executive of Whole Foods…

Mr Friedman’s contacts seem more promising: the Seasteading Institute received lots of cash from Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who founded the internet payment service PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook…

Honduras has already created zones wherein Honduran law, such as it is, does not operate. Something like Michigan, with its takeovers of municipalities.

Posted in Honduras, libertoonians | 4 Comments »

Ayn Rand Fan Tyler Cowen Doesn’t Like The Results Of Decades Of Randism On Conservatives

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 13, 2011

This just cracked me up.

Tyler Cowen, Ayn-Rand-worshiping product of and coddled hothouse flower in the conservative ideology factory and Koch Brothers plaything known as George Mason University, is all bummed out at how lazy and amoral conservatives and libertarian producers are letting themselves be outshone by liberal moochers in the intellectual and other departments:

The first problem is that higher status for the wealthy can easily lead to crony capitalism. In public discourse social status judgments are often crude. Critical differences are lost, like the distinction between earning money through production for consumers, as Apple has done, and earning money through the manipulation of government, which heavily subsidized agribusinesses have done. The relevant question, in my view, is not about how much you have earned but about how you have earned it. To further confuse matters, many right-wing Republican politicians supported corporate bailouts and corporate welfare far beyond what was necessary to stabilize the economy, in doing so further muddying the difference between productive and predatory capitalism.

The second problem is that many conservatives have become so attached to their cultural vision that they have ceded sound, technocratic reasoning to the left and center. For instance there is a common willingness among conservatives to defend the Bush tax cuts, even though the evidence does not show much of an economic payoff.

[...]

…today’s elites are so wedded to permissive values — in part for their own pleasure and convenience — that a new conservative cultural revolution may have little chance of succeeding.

Well, boo hoo hoo.

The spoiled-brat Cons Cowen rails about are precisely what you get when you rear three generations of conservatives on Ayn Rand’s mid-20th-century Social-Darwinist gloss on the Calvinistic idea that they are the Elect and everyone else is the Preterite.

Of course the modern Cons are lazy, stupid, greedy, and amoral — and it’s because they are Randians, even the self-alleged Christians among them like Mark Sanford.

They have been trained to think of themselves as the embodiment of her perfect elite, the studly producers and “makers” whose every action per Rand (including rape and murder) is self-justified, and to have nothing but contempt for the 99% — or as they call us, the “moochers”, “parasites” (a term adopted by rabid Randian Alan Greenspan (aka Mr. Andrea Mitchell) when he was a young man: “Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”), “looters”, and “takers” (which math-challenged Rand worshiper Paul Ryan favors).

So when Cowen says that everyone needs to behave like “the hero from an Ayn Rand novel”, what he doesn’t mention is that the very conservatives and Republicans he’s allegedly complaining about are the ones who have taken Rand’s words most strongly to what passes for their self-interested, self-centered, other-ignoring, empathy-shunning hearts. Quelle surprise — not.

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, libertoonians, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

(What Passes For) GOP Wisdom: Obama’s Gay, Kenyan, Backed By A Jewish Billionaire

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 7, 2011

This really has to be seen to be believed:

It’s all of the Bircher/Turner-Diaries/Limbaugh/Tea-Party right-wing craziness distilled into one person and regurgitated in concentrated form. And she’s a Republican primary voter, folks.

If you wonder why even movement Republicans like Dan Riehl are finally starting to admit that the GOP’s gone insane, look no further.

Posted in libertoonians, Republicans, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Restoring the monarchy: the American Legislative Council

Posted by Charles II on July 23, 2011

John Nichols has been spearheading an investigation of the American Legislative Council (ALEC), an organ of the corporate state founded by Paul Weyrich. Weyrich famously said that when people vote, the right loses.

So, here are some excerpts. Julie Underwood:

Public schools,” ALEC wrote in its 1985 Education Source Book, “meet all of the needs of all of the people without pleasing anyone.” A better system, the organization argued, would “foster educational freedom and quality” through various forms of privatization: vouchers, tax incentives for sending children to private schools and unregulated private charter schools. Today ALEC calls this “choice”—and vouchers “scholarships”—but it amounts to an ideological mission to defund and redesign public schools.

John Nichols:

Enacting burdensome photo ID or proof of citizenship requirements has long been an ALEC priority. ALEC and its sponsors have an enduring mission to pass laws that would make it harder for millions of Americans to vote, impose barriers to direct democracy and let big money flow more freely into campaigns.

Wendell Potter:

Click to read on

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in koch brothers, libertoonians, privatization, Republicans as cancer | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

One nation, grimly risible

Posted by Charles II on June 4, 2011

Robert Parry, Consortium News:

Over the past four decades or so, the Republicans have simply not played by the old give-and-take rules of politics. Indeed, if one were to step back and assess this Republican approach, what you would see is something akin to how the CIA has destabilized target countries, especially those that seek to organize themselves in defiance of capitalist orthodoxy.

The hard reality in the United States today is that the Republicans and the Right are now fully organized, armed with a potent propaganda machine and possessing an extraordinary political will. They are well-positioned to roll the U.S. economy off the cliff and blame the catastrophe on Obama.

Indeed, that may be their best hope for winning Election 2012.

The irony is that they own the golden goose they are killing. Their new Chinese (or whoever) overlords are not quite so foolish.

FWIW, I think that it is a small subset of Republicans, namely the paranoid right who are organizing in this sort of destructive politics. Unfortunately, they include people, like the Koch brothers, who have more money than brains. Also unfortunately, their servants in Washington have no brains at all.

Posted in abuse of power, economy, libertoonians | 2 Comments »

Tea Partier Plans to Go to Madison Posing as Union Member So He Can Start Fights

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 21, 2011

While the national media is busy yammering about nonexistent “chaos” even as the Madison cops still haven’t found anything that rates writing out an arrest warrant, a really stupid teabagger named Mark Williams wants to get together with his buddies and go to Madison to cause actual trouble while posing as SEIU members:

we are going to target the many TV cameras and reporters looking for comments from the members there (5) we will approach the cameras to make good pictures… signs under our shirts that say things like “screw the taxpayer!” and “you OWE me!” to be pulled out for the camera (timing is important because the signs will be taken away from us) (6) we will echo those slogans in angry sounding tones to the cameras and the reporters.

[...]

Our goal is to make the gathering look as greedy and goonish as we know that it is, ding their credibility with the media and exploit the lazy reporters who just want dramatic shots and outrageous quotes for headlines. Even if it becomes known that we are plants the quotes and pictures will linger as defacto truth.

This is exactly the sort of thing right-wingers love to do. See, for example, Mitch Berg and his buddies at “Protest Warrior”. So it’s no surprise that they’re trying the same old agent proschlockateur silliness.

Posted in libertoonians, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples, Silly Republicans, Tea Party | Tagged: , | 23 Comments »

The True Reagan Legacy

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 9, 2011

I spent so much time on this comment I made over at Renaissance Post, that I felt it deserved a post of its own:

The Reagan presidency is one of the many poisoned fruits of the deliberate rejection, by the various moneyed interests that back the people that rule us, of anything the least bit edifying.

Many business tycoons went along with FDR’s New Deal creation of universal public education from kindergarten through high school because they wanted an educated workforce. Then in the 1960s, they saw what happened when you gave tens of millions of kids a decent primary education and good preparation for college: They learned enough to see a) who was screwing who, and b) how to organize to stop it. As a result, big business largely stopped backing universal public education (the bogus “A Nation at Risk” report and the burying of the Sandia study debunking it shows the increasing hatred of the ruling classes for public education), and in fact stopped supporting non-ideological science and research unless it provided a direct financial benefit.

Not only did big business turn its back on schools and science, but on basic human decency as well. The whole point of the “Southern Strategy” is not that it plays on the bigotry of people, many but by no means all of whom live in the former Confederate states, but that Corporate America is allied with the persons inflaming the bigotry, and sees it as a tool for financial gain. They sell cutting taxes (especially for the rich), and thus cutting social programs, as a way to hurt blacks and other nonwhites. As Reagan strategist Lee Atwater put it in 1981:

”You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

”And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.”’

Bigotry isn’t just a mental habit of certain white working-class Southerners or even white-flight exurbanites; the very worst bigots, and the most dangerous ones, are, like the Koch brothers, extremely rich and not at all interested in using their money to help those who are less fortunate. That’s why Ayn Rand is so popular in these circles: She tells them through her writings that they are superior, that greed is good, and that they are justified in grinding the rest of us beneath their boot heels.

They turn their backs on education, on knowledge, on culture, on science, on simple human decency, all so they can justify living their lives without any type of restriction on their throbbing, over-gratified ids.

Posted in conservativism, corruption, libertoonians, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples, Silly Republicans | 4 Comments »

Know your opposition

Posted by Charles II on January 30, 2011

Via Moonbotica at Eschaton, this piece by Mark Frauenfelder at BoingBoing on Ayn Rand’s hypocrisy in taking Social Security and Medicare, and the much more interesting interview of Ayn Rand on the Phil Donahue show.

I just watched the first few minutes, but immediately the contradictions that she generates within the right struck me. She calls “altruists” (which she defines as people who sacrifice their own values for others) as “evil.” This essentially means she views Jesus as evil, because he sacrificed his life, which valued so strongly that he sweated blood over it, at the command of God. Rand could argue that He was sacrificing one value (life) for a value held more strongly (obedience to God) but, of course, that’s exactly what altruists do. They say, “I will surrender this because I believe it will lead to a better world, which I value even more than what I am surrendering.”

She is in many ways the grandmother of the modern Republican Party, which believes deeply that helping people is fundamentally harmful both to the helper and the helped. So, to be half-facetious, maybe they really are all antiChrists. There’s certainly a lot in the behavior of the Party that is deeply un-Jesuslike. And, as has been claimed here, Rand’s vision of the ideal man was based on a “a forger, an armed robber, a child kidnapper, and a multiple murderer.”

Posted in history, libertoonians, wrong way to go about it | 2 Comments »

 
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