Monday, June 4, 2012

The New Billion Dollar Babies: The Koch Machine, Wisconsin and the Critical Path to the Election...

...and why, yeah it sucks and it's ridiculous, but Obama had to (has to) take SuperPac money. Everyone interested in saving the country from groups that would consider a Reagan a moderate by today's standards has to step up. Here's why.

Billion Dollar Babies was Alice Cooper's '70s-era rock anthem that reviled extreme avarice and excess. The same album features the song "Elected," which was was about the hypocrisy and idolatry surrounding the electoral process.  Alice Cooper wasn't singing about the Koch Brothers growing political empire at the time, but they might as well have been. Today's billion dollar babies are modern plutocratic rock stars who not only bought the tea party movement, lock, stock, and smoking barrel--but in 2010, they also put in place the most intractable House of Representatives in many decades. This election cycle, however, they intend to finish the job by purchasing the entire election, including the Senate and the White House, and it's entirely possible that they'll do it. POLITICO reported the other day that Koch and Rove intend to donate $1 billion dollars to defeat Obama and the democrats.
Their main motivation? Avarice. Greed. Wanton disregard for the democratic principles of one person, one vote. Their end goal? The United States of Koch and with their legal ability to spend unlimited amounts of cash, they just might achieve it. 

Wisconsin in the spotlight. Americans for Prosperity is the policy organization run by the Koch Machine. The recall election that takes place tomorrow, June 6, has been influenced, at least in part, by the Koch Brothers. According to the Wall Street Journal (via Alternet), they have spent a lot of money on the Wisconsin recall in support of the Scott Walker against the recall: 
Through January, Americans for Prosperity, has spent $1.5 million on ads opposing the recall, and recently launched a new, $700,000 TV campaign [targeting public-sector unions.] Its director, Tim Philips, said AFP isn't an outside interest group. AFP set up offices in Wisconsin in 2005 and has been running a grassroots campaign of its own to stop the recalls, he said.
Things do not go better with Koch. Alternet has an excellent, detailed primer on all things Koch that are in danger of being forgotten for the activist plutocrats (there are so many out there, it's hard to choose just one), including this "top three" list of abominations:
  1. Buying Elections. The plutocratic Koch Brothers plan to spend anywhere from $200 million to $400 million on various conservative groups to defeat Obama. Add this to the money that Rove and his SuperPac buddies are planning, and we're talking over $1 billion war chest being developed to defeat democrats and institute would amounts to a republican Kalifate in this country. (They also helped install the Tea Party in the House.)
  2. Corrupting the Legislative Process. he American Legislative Exchange Council is a corporate-funded body that crafts model legislation, such as Wisconsin's anti-worker law, designed to be customized by legislators in state houses across the country. The Koch brothers are enthusiastic backers of ALEC, which is not only behind the raft of anti-labor bills roiling legislatures, but also the widespread legislative attempts to disenfranchise voters, as well as anti-immigrant legislation. ALEC was also behind the Florida law, called Stand Your Ground, that is being used as the justification for not arresting George Zimmerman, the killer of Trayvon Martin.
  3. Corrupting Scholarly Research. As noted in Koch Brothers Exposed, Charles and David Koch are generous funders of think-tanks, and donors of endowed chairs at colleges and universities nationwide. They even have their very own academic entity, the Mercatus Institute, at Virginia's George Mason University, a public institution. The brothers would have you believe that it's all about their love of learning, but in truth, these entities exist expressly to churn out reams of pages that deny the science of climate change, and that advance economic arguments for the implementation of the Koch agenda, whether it be the roll-back of environmental regulation, or the scaling back of Social Security. (Think Progress offers an overview here.)
The Kochs are anti-climate change (because their businesses are high-polluting industries) and they are at war with any regulatory or governmental oversight. An extensive review of these activities was written in the New Yorker that's worth readingThe "Koch Brothers Exposed," a documentary by Robert Greenwald, reveals the world of the Koch Brothers and their interest in taking over the country and undermining any law or regulation that they disagree with. Here's his Koch Brothers Exposed website. Here's the movie trailer:

"Koch Brothers are Exhibit A in the Citizens United Supreme Court Ruling." That's from Sen. Bernie's Sanders' website post from May 31, 2012. And he's right. The Citizens United ruling is a legacy from George W. Bush, who appointed two conservative Supreme Court justices that, in September of 2011, helped ensure that corporations now have the right to personhood through the Citizens United ruling. This is old news. The new news is that the infamously plutocratic Koch Brothers and their adopted turd blossom sidekick, Karl Rove, have promised to donate over $1 billion to defeat Obama and take over Congress. What does this mean? Well, nothing less than the logical end result of a deregulated, free market political system. The logic works like this:
  1. Citizens United enables the richest people to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy political ads.
  2. Political ads can turn an election around by saturating markets and putting out unaccountable, often distorted disinformation to vilify a candidate.
  3. The Koch brothers and Rove have promised to spend more money on defeating Obama and the democrats than McCain spent on his entire election in 2008.
  4. While many die-hard "blue" states will probably remain firmly democratic, swing states, such as Florida and Michigan could be swayed by this firehose of cash.
One very important way to fight it is with cash--and lots of it. That's the unfortunate reality, but that is the reality. If you are against the overt purchase of our political system by plutocratic libertarians who have nothing other than self-interest at heart, you have to fight fire with fire, and spend as much to counter these ads. And it's easy to condemn Obama for breaking his pledge not to accept SuperPac money, but that's like the bully who takes your lunch money. It's fine to take the moral high ground, but you're still going to get punched and have your money stolen. You're playing by different sets of rules. If money is required to win elections--and unfortunately that's the cold truth of the matter--then money is what's required to stave off the Conservative Kalifate envisioned by Koch and others.

Stay tuned for my next installment on what you can do to fight the Koch Brothers / Karl Rove political axis. I'm calling it Sell $h!t to eliminate Mitt and I think it's something we all can do with minimal effort. In the meantime, donate whatever you can to Obama or the Democrats.

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