Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

The Kochs choke democracy

Posted by Charles II on August 25, 2010

Jane Mayer, New Yorker:

The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” …

[Koch-funded] Americans for Prosperity has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception…A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!” [emphasis added]

Like the biblical plague, frogs. That seems appropriate.

There’s more below the fold

Another former Koch adviser said, “They’re smart. This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.” …

Oddly enough, the fiercely capitalist Koch family owes part of its fortune to Joseph Stalin. …

As their fortunes grew, Charles and David Koch became the primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America. Charles’s goal, as Doherty described it, was to tear the government “out at the root.” …

The [NY Libertarian] Party wanted to end Social Security, minimum-wage laws, gun control, and all personal and corporate income taxes… Government should be reduced to only one function: the protection of individual rights. William F. Buckley, Jr., a more traditional conservative, called the movement “Anarcho-Totalitarianism.”…

After the 1980 election, Charles and David Koch receded from the public arena. But they poured more than a hundred million dollars into dozens of seemingly independent organizations. Tax records indicate that in 2008 the three main Koch family foundations gave money to thirty-four political and policy organizations, three of which they founded, and several of which they direct. …

In 1997, another Senate investigation began looking into what a minority report called “an audacious plan to pour millions of dollars in contributions into Republican campaigns nationwide without disclosing the amount or source,” in order to evade campaign-finance laws. A shell corporation, Triad Management, had paid more than three million dollars for attack ads in twenty-six House races and three Senate races. More than half of the advertising money came from an obscure nonprofit group, the Economic Education Trust. …

In the mid-nineties, the Justice Department filed two lawsuits against Koch Industries, claiming that it was responsible for more than three hundred oil spills, which had released an estimated three million gallons of oil into lakes and rivers. The penalty was potentially as high as two hundred and fourteen million dollars. In a settlement, Koch Industries paid a record thirty-million-dollar civil fine, and agreed to spend five million dollars on environmental projects….

In 1991, David Koch was badly injured in a plane crash in Los Angeles. He was the sole passenger in first class to survive. As he was recovering, a routine physical exam led to the discovery of prostate cancer. Koch received treatment, settled down, started a family, and reconsidered his life. As he told Portfolio, “When you’re the only one who survived in the front of the plane and everyone else died—yeah, you think, ‘My God, the good Lord spared me for some greater purpose.’ My joke is that I’ve been busy ever since, doing all the good work I can think of, so He can have confidence in me.”…

Koch’s corporate and political roles, however, may pose conflicts of interest. For example, at the same time that David Koch has been casting himself as a champion in the fight against cancer, Koch Industries has been lobbying to prevent the E.P.A. from classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces in great quantities, as a “known carcinogen” in humans.

Scientists have long known that formaldehyde causes cancer in rats, and several major scientific studies have concluded that formaldehyde causes cancer in human beings—including one published last year by the National Cancer Institute, on whose advisory board Koch sits. …

James Huff, an associate director at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the N.I.H., told me that it was “disgusting” for Koch to be serving on the National Cancer Advisory Board: “It’s just not good for public health. Vested interests should not be on the board.” He went on, “Those boards are very important. They’re very influential as to whether N.C.I. goes into formaldehyde or not. Billions of dollars are involved in formaldehyde.”

Spared by God, to do what?

Give more people cancer, wreck American democracy, and make more money.

These people are evil.

3 Responses to “The Kochs choke democracy”

  1. She’s one of the best, so much so that the Kochs had Politico defend them from her.

    • Charles II said

      David Koch arranged to have a flattering piece about him placed in New York Magazine just before Mayer’s piece came out.

      I wonder how much he paid to have it scrubbed of any mention about him dumping benzene and blocking the regulation of formaldehyde.

      • It’s all part of the corporate-bigot alliance called the Southern Strategy. The original plan involved just talking bigots into backing tax cuts for the rich on the idea that the resulting cuts in social spending would hurt nonwhites more than they would hurt whites, and with the extra “benefit” being that they could cloak their racism in the language of deficit scolds. But too many people started to see through that scam, so the Republicans finally — with the help of the Kochs — hijacked the original Tea Party movement and used it as a way to seem to offload the racism that motivates their voting base without actually doing so. The TPs exist in part to give Republicans deniability: They can say out loud all the things that officially branded Republicans can’t.

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