Category Archives: money

The End of Democracy – The Koch Brothers

Did you watch Rachel Maddow last night? She followed the bucks and the negative Health Care ads, appearing both nationally and in some states, to two groups, the Foundation for Government Accountability (sounds quite official and serious doesn’t it) and the State Policy Network (which also sounds like it is part of actual government). Apparently neither of these groups has any connection whatsoever to either our federal government or the governments of our state. In spite of their ad hoc roots these two groups are traveling around America serving as witnesses against the ACA in states where there might be a bit of wiggle room, where a state may be considering signing on to the expanded Medicaid that is part of the ACA (the part that gives insurance to the uninsured). They post internet ads that suggest that signing on to Obama’s health care act will get you in tax trouble. They have another site which attempts to get the residents in the states where they operate to sign a Grover- Norquist-style pledge that says they will never sign up for health care.


Once the money trail was unraveled it led to those billionaire Koch (pronounced coke) brothers who have more money than the rest of Americans-who-are-not in-the-top-1% combined. These brothers who inherited their money from the oil and chemical industry established by their Daddy are solid backers and play-callers in the right wing of the Republican Party. They have their fingers in just about every one of those “we-are-the-true-Patriots pies”.


We have long suspected that our country is not controlled by the American people. We have suspected that monied people (who now include corporations, since corporations are people) call the tunes that our elected “representatives” march to. From time to time proof of meddling has been offered up to us by one party or another and we are temporarily shocked. Then we shake it off and move on. But the machinations of these two brothers seem to be similar to the tentacles of a jelly fish which has twined its way throughout all aspects of our government. The right wing Conservatives don’t just have lots of organizations working to make sure their policies become part of American governance, but these organizations talk to each other. They are not isolated entities. In fact most of them have, at the top, a few names of very rich sponsors, and almost all of them have been traced to the Koch brothers.





How can the average American fight a steamrolling, bankrolling political machine like this? How can we counteract the influence of wealthy power-brokers on our states and on our federal government?  If you add up all the issues that we the people favor by over 50% (issues like immigration laws, gun control laws, laws to raise the minimum wage and more), issues we favor actually by over 60%, and then see how many of these issues are being taken care of by our Congress, you can see how much power “we the people” actually wield. If anyone needs to “take back our government” it is “we, the people”, but I guess you can see why we feel terribly out-gunned (double meaning intended) and out-maneuvered and out-classed (meaning out-spent, since class equals money in America). How on earth can we root out this pernicious patch of weeds that has spread out like a giant taproot under America? It all feels pretty hopeless. Obamacare is the only thing we have apparently gotten past these people and they are mad (and yes, mad is the correct word here); they want vengeance; they will do anything to stop this law from becoming a successful part of the social safety net in America. Obama did an end run around these secret manipulators, he mowed the grass, and that is not allowed. One thing we can do, therefore, against these rich polluters is support the Affordable Care Act; be patient about its roll-out; sign up for it as soon as we get a chance. We could also repeat over and over again how we want Congress to approve Obama’s court nominees. We can insist that the minimum wage should be raised. I don’t know if we can have much effect on immigration or gun control right now because these bills have very entrenched enemies, but there are probably some other areas where we can be a big, old, nasty, squeaky wheel. Can we win out over all this money? The outlook is not good, but if we just lie down and play dead that may be the end of Democracy.

The last graphic was drawn by Muckety and reproduced in the Daily Kos


This is the view from the cheap seats.

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com



The Left Wing has Richer Backers

The Republican in my backyard (TRIMBY) sent me the transcript of an interview that Glenn Beck conducted on his radio show with an ex-liberal, now conservative writer, David Horowitz. Mr. Horowitz has a new book out called The New Leviathan: How the Left Wing Money Machine Shapes American Politics and Threatens America’s Future. (That’s a mouthful.) TRIMBY loves to zing me with anti-liberal propaganda and he loves Glenn Beck, who gives me a stomach ache.
Mr. Horowitz sees conservatives awakening. I certainly agree with that. He says conservatives don’t like politics. I say they’re learning fast.
Glenn says the number of groups and how much money they have on the left is “breathtaking.
14 liberal groups have more than a billion dollars in assets says Horowitz. “The conservatives have zero. There’s nobody on the side of the conservatives that have the juice and power of those foundations.”
On the conservative side the Koch brothers have $239 million.
On the liberal side the Ford Foundation has $10 billion (35x greater), the Gates Foundation is 3 times the size of the Ford. Total left-wing assets are $104 billion. There are 75 conservative foundations whose assets total $10 billion.
Glenn argues that the left made farmers stop using DDT which he does not consider dangerous (smack the palm of your hand against the side of your head and say “duh”). Because of that “horrible” Rachel Carson and her book The Silent Spring and the Environmental Resources Defense Council (funded by the Ford Foundation) (those awful lefties) we have to worry about malaria again which had almost disappeared. (Why do you think Ms. Carson named her book The Silent Spring?  Mosquitoes were not the only things dying.)
Glenn, really? DDT? That’s where you choose to make your stand?
Horowitz says Rockefeller is now left-wing, also Carnegie, Hewlett, Packard, Kellogg, Casey, and Joyce. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are funding the left and these are government backed institutions. And Soros.
Fact checkers please!
The leftwing 501(c)(3) ‑‑ by the way, this book is really about the Shadow Party on steroids. George Soros is an important player here but when you see how many of them there are, you’ll appreciate what we’re up against. The environmental leftists, we divided environmental groups into pro free market and antifree market. The antifree market wants huge government controls. They think that corporations are the cause of everything from the mythic global warming to every other environmental problem we have. So they have built into them this anticapitalist, antifreedom agenda. The progressive environmental organizations have $9 1/2 billion in assets. That’s bigger than the EPA budget which is 8.7 billion. And also dwarves the pro ‑‑ there are pro free market environmental organizations like the Competitive Enterprise Institute. There are 32 of those and they have $38 million. So that’s the left ‑‑
HOROWITZ: But that’s ‑‑ that’s not the end of it because the left through the Democratic Party and through brainless Republicans gets itself funded by the government. What’s the disparity there? They get annually $570 million to fund these anticapitalist, anticorporation environmental organizations, and the pro free market environmental organizations get 728,000. 570 million versus 728,000. You can do the math on that.
GLENN: We’re bringing a ‑‑ we’re not bringing a knife to a gunfight. We’re bringing a toothpick.
HOROWITZ: A toothpick, exactly right.
Yet in a blog yesterday morning
Obama says,
“I will be the first president in modern history to be outspent in his reelection campaign, if things continue as they have so far.”
(Questions: Can Foundations also be PACs? Do they qualify as corporations? Is the environmental movement by definition anti-capitalist and anti-freedom?)

Obama goes on to say: “I’m not just talking about the super PACs and anonymous outside groups – I’m talking about the Romney campaign itself. Those outside groups just add even more to the underlying problem.”

“The Romney campaign raises more than we do, and the math isn’t hard to understand. Through the primaries, we raised three-quarters of our money from donors giving less than $1,000, while Mill Romney’s campaign raised more than three-quarters of its money from individuals giving $1000 or more.”

“And, again, that’s not including the massive outside spending by super PACs and front groups funneling up to an additional billion dollars into ads trashing me, you , and everything we believe in.”

“We can be outspent and still win – but we can’t be outspent 10 to 1 and still win.”