Posts tagged "Koch Brothers"

Reasonable people who don’t follow politics closely can be forgiven for dismissing Democrats’ focus on the Koch brothers as just a political tactic– not unlike the Republicans’ attacks on George Soros. They’re all rich and politically active. So what? 

Senator Bernie Sanders begs to differ–and so should we. Sanders points out that the brothers are worth 80 billion dollars (including an increase of 12 billion in the last year alone), and he points to the extent of their involvement in the political process–and the degree to which they have used their enormous resources to misinform and confuse, most recently funding political spots that flat-out lie about the Affordable Care Act, which–along with Medicare and Medicaid– they are intent upon repealing. (I guess when poor people get health care, it offends their peculiar version of justice.) 

David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980. And Sanders suggests we take a look at the platform on which he ran: 

  • “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.” 
  • “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.” 
  • “We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.” 
  • “We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.” 
  • “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.” 
  • “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.” 
  • “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.” 
  • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.” 
  • “As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.” 
  • “We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.” 
  • “We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.” 
  • “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.” 
  • “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.” 
  • “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.” 
  • “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.” 
  • “We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.” 
  • “We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.” 
  • “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.” 
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.” 
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.” 
  • “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.” 
  • “We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.” 
  • “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.” 
  • “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.” 
  • “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.” 
  • “We support the repeal of all state usury laws.” 


The Koch brothers want to repeal every major piece of legislation that levels the playing field or protects the middle class, the elderly, children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country, and thanks to Citizens United and McCutcheon, they can spend unlimited amounts of money to buy the American government they want. 

They’ve realized that the Libertarian party can’t deliver their particular version of “liberty”–but properly funded, they hope the GOP can. 

They may be right.

H/Y: Sheila Kennedy at Peacock Panache

h/t: Olivia Sandbothe at AFSCME

crooksandliars:

If old HuckaJesus really thinks that North Korea is that great, I would welcome him joining Dennis Rodman and moving over there so we could be rid of both of them here. From this Saturday’s “Freedom Summit,” sponsored by Citizens United and Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity.

Huckabee hit on everything from the issue with the rancher that he and his network continue to toss gasoline on, to Fast & Furious, to Benghazi, to the IRS, before finally going after the TSA and airport security, and then making the ridiculous comparison between citizens having the right to vote and the security required to enter the White House:

Speakers at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, which was sponsored by Citizens United and Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity, included Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, all of whom would be top tier presidential contenders should they run.

Donald Trump also spoke.

read more

Two affiliates of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity are helping conservative media promote the cause of a Nevada rancher who has made violent threats against the federal government.

Cliven Bundy, a cattle rancher in Nevada, has refused to remove his animals from public property in violation of a federal court order.  

In 1993, Bundy declined to pay government fees that are required in order to allow his cattle to graze on the public land. In 1998 a court order told Bundy to remove his cattle as part of an effort to protect an endangered desert tortoise in the area. He refused. In July 2013, a federal court order told Bundy to remove his cattle from the land or they would be confiscated. He disobeyed the order, and confiscation has begun. The government will auction the animals and use the proceeds to pay off the $1 million in fines that Bundy owes the government.

Bundy’s ongoing refusal to obey the law and court orders has become a cause célèbre for the conservative media, which has compared the situation to deadly standoffs like Waco and Ruby Ridge.

In recent comments to a conspiracy theorist’s radio show, Bundy said, “I haven’t called no militia or anything like that, but hey it looks like that’s where we’re at.” He added, “We got a strong army here, we have to fight.” Previously Bundy told the Las Vegas Sun that ”he keeps firearms at his ranch” and promised to “do whatever it takes” to defend his cattle being seized, adding, “I abide by almost zero federal laws.”

Earlier this week, protesters and members of the Bundy family had a confrontation with law enforcement, where a stun gun was used to subdue Bundy’s son, who had reportedly climbed on a dump truck when he assumed it contained cattle that had been killed during confiscation. Members of several militia groups have made their way to Bundy’s ranch, reportedly “to protect the Bundys from tyranny.”

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the conservative non-profit group, was founded by and has been largely funded by billionaires Charles and David Koch. The Center for Media and Democracy reported that in its previous incarnation as Citizens for a Sound Economy, AFP received $12 million of its $18 million in funding from the Koch Family Foundation.

During the 2012 election, AFP spent $122 million in an effort to defeat President Obama and Congressional Democrats. AFP has also sponsored and organized bus rallies and town hall meetings to promote conservative ideas, including deregulation, tax cuts, and opposition to health care reform.

AFP has been at the forefront of spending in the 2014 election, launching several ads attacking the Affordable Care Act which have come under fire for inaccuracy by independent fact checkers. As of March, AFP had aired a reported 17,000 television ads.

Two of its local affiliates, Americans for Prosperity Nevada and Americans for Prosperity Colorado, have become active boosters of Bundy’s actions.

AFP Nevada’s Facebook page posted a graphic attacking the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for spending “one million dollars” to enforce the court order to round up Bundy’s cattle on federal land. Another photo attacked the Bureau for creating a designated “First Amendment Area” for protesters to gather in near the property.

On its Twitter page, AFP Nevada is more strident in its support of Bundy and in attacking the federal government.

AFP Nevada has promoted the hashtag #BundyBattle, which supporters are using to showcase their message. In one tweet, AFP Nevada posted a graphic attacking the cattle round up and said they had a “bone to pick” with the Bureau of Land Management.

Another AFP Nevada tweet attacked the “First Amendment Area” with a photo of cow manure and the caption “This is what we think about ‘First Amendment Areas’.”

AFP Nevada also promoted as a “must read” a blog post from conservative pundit Dana Loesch where she described the standoff as “harassment” from the federal government. The group also accused the BLM of “strategically regulating hard-working Americans out of business.”

AFP Colorado has reposted several of AFP Nevada’s tweets, and has posted commentary of its own about the issue. In one tweet, AFP Colorado has said that the “Fed militarizing of Nevada standoff is bound to fuel more sagebrush rebellion” and that ”Feds turn from landlords to warlords when Nevada rancher won’t bend his knee.”

AFP Colorado also reposted a tweet attacking the “First Amendment Area” from Paul Joseph Watson, a correspondent from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars.

h/t: Oliver Willis at MMFA 

mediamattersforamerica

Back during the not-so-distant glory days of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger reign as a regional newspaper powerhouse, the Newark, New Jersey newsroom in the 2000’s was bursting with 350 journalists who covered the entire state and pocketed Pulitzers for their coverage of local politicians. Back when Tony Soprano made Jersey mob cool, each week during the show’s opening the fictional wise guy paid homage to the daily by sauntering down his driveway to retrieve the Star-Ledger.

That’s now all a memory. Last week, the Star-Ledger’s owner announced massive layoffs at the newspaper as part of a larger effort at consolidation. Today, entire sections of the Newark newsroom sit empty; a newsroom that has shed an astonishing 240 jobs since 2008, or two-thirds of its former staff.

All this, at a time when the Star-Ledger’s detailed, hometown coverage of the unraveling scandals involving Gov. Chris Christie had become must-reads for journalists and news junkies alike.

Philadelphia columnist Will Bunch called last week’s Star-Ledger pink slips for reporters the “best news” of Christie’s career. Why? “With fewer of them on the beat, Christie — and all the other corrupt politicians of the Garden State — will be able to keep more of their secrets from the public than ever before.”  

Even before the scandalous lane-closings at the George Washington Bridge, the Star-Ledger, as Bunch highlighted, had ferreted out all sorts of unseemly transactions embedded in the boss-style politics that still dominates the Garden State.

But the sad news regarding the Star-Ledger isn’t just about the challenges New Jersey’s largest newspaper faces trying to cover the eleventh most populous state with a newsroom one-third its previous size. After all, the slow-motion decline of American newspapers has been on morbid display for years now.

The larger, disturbing question is what happens to newsgathering, and what happen to a democracy, when the cutbacks show no signs of abating while at the same time new, super-donor forces in American politics, led by people like the Koch brothers, exert unprecedented influence via staggering sums of money, misinformation, and faux news on the state level. And what happens when those players remain committed to operating behind a cloak of secrecy? 

"We are going to consolidate ourselves right out of a democracy," quipped one New Jersey journalist last week.

It’s true that there’s currently a mini-boom in digitally-based data journalism, with several promising sites launching or planning to so so soon. But that brand of explanatory, often wonkish storytelling is separate from the traditional, day-to-day digging that dailies have done; the kind of reporting that sheds light on public officials and the intersection of money and politics.

Note that the Star-Ledger ”purge" unfolded the same week the United States Supreme Court, in a party-line 5-4 decision, eliminated further restrictions on campaign donations made by America’s super-rich. The Court also signaled it might be ready to do away with campaign finance regulations all together, a radical position now endorsed by the Republican Party. (“The Court’s decisions have empowered a new class of American political oligarchs,” warned campaign reformer Fred Wertheimer.)

Also note the Star-Ledger wipe-out arrived the same week that secretive super-donor and billionaire industrialist Charles Koch took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to pen a self-pitying essay about the nasty attacks he allegedly suffers as he and his brother pump massive amounts of cash into conservative coffers and wage a relentless war against President Obama. It’s the same Koch brothers who shroud their political activities in secrecy and who often attack journalists who try to uncover the truth about them. 

Charles and David Koch aren’t alone among right-wing donors eager to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat Democrats and to permanently alter the political landscape. Aspiring Republican presidential candidates recently traveled to Las Vegas for the so-called Sheldon Adelson Primary; to court the casino billionaire who spent $92 million dollars in a failed attempt to defeat Obama in 2012.

Unlike Adelson however, the Koch brothers are helping to build an enormous, sprawling, and unprecedented infrastructure not only to help elect Republicans, including a Republican president, but to try to rewrite the laws across the country. And it’s all done in the name of curtailing government regulations; regulations that effect the brothers’ huge energy and chemical conglomerate, the second-largest, privately-held company in the U.S.

Just look at how Koch-backed groups were instrumental in defeating a vote by workers to unionize at a local Volkswagen plant in Tennessee. And how newspapers last year in Ohio cited a sham think tank, the Buckeye Institute, dozens of times and not once mentioned its ties to the Kochs.

The numbers behind the infrastructure, so far, are staggering. “The political network spearheaded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has expanded into a far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity, built around a maze of groups that cloaks its donors,” the Washington Post reported this year. “Together, the 17 conservative groups that made up the network raised at least $407 million during the 2012 campaign.”

And a key to the operation, and one that’s so troubling for the future of news, is secrecy. The super-rich donors remain largely unknown and by design. The fact that news organizations could not determine how much the groups spent in 2012 until a year or two after the campaigns highlights the difficulty in penetrating those dark spaces.

"It is a very sophisticated and complicated structure," Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, a University of Notre Dame Law School professor told the Post after examining the groups’ tax filing. “It’s designed to make it opaque as to where the money is coming from and where the money is going.”

Meanwhile, the Koch-affiliated infrastructure includes obvious efforts to obfuscate the truth. A key outlet within the Koch’s constellation is Americans for Prosperity, which “spent $122 million leading up to the 2012 campaign and has already spent more than $30 million in the past six months attacking Obamacare and Democratic senators up for reelection this fall,” according to The New Republic.  

Purposefully and unapologetically peddling misinformation about pressing public policy initiatives that affect millions of Americans, the independent site Politifact has fact-checked 13 Americans for Prosperity attacks ads since 2010. Eleven have been tagged as inaccurate. Just two have been deemed to be even “half true.”

And then there’s the Franklin Center, “a multimillion-dollar organization whose websites and affiliates provide free statehouse reporting to local newspapers and other media across the country,” as Media Matters previously reported. “Funded by major conservative donors, staffed by veterans of groups affiliated with the Koch brothers, and maintaining a regular presence hosting right-wing events, the organization boasts of its ability to fill the void created by state newsroom layoffs.”

As one local newspaper editor put it, “It was basically a lobbying organization that linked to a news arm.”

So while once-thriving, independent newsrooms like the Star-Ledger continue to be bled dry, faux news operations like the Franklin Center are buoyed by secretive donations from right-wing billionaires.

That’s a dangerous equation for any democracy.

h/t: Eric Boehlert at MMFA 

mediamattersforamerica

The teacher-hating GOP extremists backed by ALEC/Koch Brothers are destroying education in this country. 

h/t: Brian Beutler at Salon

h/t: Katie Valentine at Climate Progress

What a whinebag she is.
Koch Bros. group leader: Extending Obamacare deadline takes health care from my children (via Raw Story )

MSNBC host Chris Hayes clashed with a state official for the Koch Brothers-funded group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) on Wednesday after she claimed that extending the deadline to sign up for the Affordable Care Act by two weeks would have a negative…

crooksandliars:

(Credit: DonkeyHotey)

In reaction to a $3 million ad buy by Senate Majority PAC, a spokesman for Koch Industries accused the group of “negative cynical, divisive, and dishonest attacks” against Charles and David Koch.

A Koch brothers aide is blasting Democrats for big ad buys in battleground states that go on the attack–the very same things the Koch brothers, themselves, do.

An aide to the Koch brothers on Friday ripped into a massive Democratic ad buy that attacks the billionaires across five Senate battleground states.

In reaction to a $3 million ad buy in Colorado, North Carolina, Arkansas, Michigan and Louisiana by Senate Majority PAC, a spokesman for Koch Industries accused the group of “negative cynical, divisive, and dishonest attacks” against Charles and David Koch.

This is even more laughable given the recent disclosure that the Kochs put big money into the Florida congressional race that David Jolly eked out with big out-of-state dollars, testing an anti-Obamacare strategy.

And Republicans are singing the praises of the Kochs.

Republican senators are beginning to more pointedly defend the Kochs, exemplified by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) telling constituents this week that the brothers “are two of the most patriotic Americans.”

This is a good argument for publicly-financed elections.

Uhh, Mr. Diaper Boy, the Koch Brothers are two of the most treasonous Americans ever in the history of our fine nation, NOT “heroes” or “patriots.”

H/T: Daniel Strauss at TPM

My home town of Dexter has been in the national news a bit lately. It started when Congressman Tim “the Original Tea Partier” Walberg invited a resident of our Stars Hollow-like village, Julie Boonstra, to be his guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address as a “victim of Obamacare”.

From there, she was featured in an anti-Gary Peters ad by the Koch brothers’ front group Americans for Prosperity, an ad that has gotten more attention after being completely debunked than it would have gotten otherwise.

AFP doubled down, running another ad where Boonstra tearfully cries about being “silenced” by Gary Peters who questioned her veracity. Julie Boonstra may be the loudest “silenced” person this country has ever known.

Now Boonstra is making the news again after an excellent bit of journalism by Detroit News reporter Marisa Schultz tears her already debunked story to shreds:

Boonstra said Monday her new plan she dislikes is the Blue Cross Premier Gold health care plan, which caps patient responsibility for out-of-pocket costs at $5,100 a year, lower than the federal law’s maximum of $6,350 a year. It means the new plan will save her at least $1,200 compared with her former insurance plan she preferred that was ended under Obamacare’s coverage requirements.

A Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan spokesman said the insurer welcomes a chance to help members understand their benefits and alleviate concerns.

“We are here to help people like Ms. Boonstra to work their way through adjusting to the health plans we are now offering them,” the Blue’s Andy Hetzel said. “If there are questions … they should call.”

Boonstra’s old plan cost $1,100 a month in premiums or $13,200 a year, she previously told The News. It didn’t include money she spent on co-pays, prescription drugs and other out-of-pocket expenses.

By contrast, the Blues’ plan premium costs $571 a month or $6,852 for the year. Since out-of-pocket costs are capped at $5,100, including deductibles, the maximum Boonstra would pay this year for all of her cancer treatment is $11,952.

When advised of the details of her Blues’ plan, Boonstra said the idea that it would be cheaper “can’t be true.”

“I personally do not believe that,” Boonstra said.

She cannot believe this very likely because she has been fed a pack of lies by groups who want to exploit her, a woman with life-threatening leukemia, to help achieve their crass political goals.

Americans for Prosperity and other conservative groups and individuals have accused Gary Peters, who wrote a letter to television stations playing the offensive ad to either force AFP to prove their claims or pull the ad, of exploiting the poor, innocent cancer patient. The truth of the matter is that Julie Boonstra IS being exploited. She’s being exploited by the Koch brothers and the chances are good she’s being exploited by her ex-husband. Julie Boonstra was once married to Mark Boonstra, a former chair of the Washtenaw County Republican Party. She is the mother of his children and co-owns a vacant lot with Mr. Boonstra’s next door to his Dexter home:

image
Screen shot from Washtenaw County Property/Parcel Lookup website

The fact is, Julie Boonstra will SAVE MONEY with the new plan that she moved to due to the Affordable Care Act. In fact, she’ll save over $1,200 annually. Her big fear about the “unpredictability” of when the bills will come due is all but laughed at by the insurance company spokesperson interviewed for the Detroit News article. Boonstra is literally complaining that she MIGHT have to pay more per month early in the year even though she’ll pay less over the course of the year. There is no risk whatsoever that she won’t be able to afford her medication which will cause her to die.

Ms. Boonstra claims that Harry Reid and Gary Peters owe her an apology. She certainly is owed an apology, but not from Peters or Reid. She is owed an apology from Charles and David Koch, Americans for Prosperity, Tim Walberg, and very possibly from her ex-husband Michigan Court of Appeals Justice Mark Boonstra. They are the ones exploiting a vulnerable woman with leukemia, making her the laughing stock of the country in the process, not the Democrats trying to make sure EVERYONE has access to affordable health insurance. Just like Julie Boonstra now has.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has downgraded Boonstra’s story from “Two Pinocchios” to “Three Pinocchios”:

[O]ne cannot claim that a plan is “unaffordable” when over the course of the year it will provide you with substantial savings. Thus we are changing the rating on this ad from Two Pinocchios to Three Pinocchios.

image

Not sure why an outright lie doesn’t merit four Pinocchios but this is a start, I suppose…

H/T: Eclectablog at Daily Kos 

dailykos

From the 03.06.2014 edition of Compass Media Networks’ The Lars Larson Show

Please go away, Michele Bachmann! 

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW