Part I: The Great American Plutocracy

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This is one of those crazy posts The Pink Flamingo has been working on for ages.   It is a bit disjointed, just have at it.  There is no real outline here, simply facts thrown up against a wall.  It is neither a critique or affirmation of people like the Koch Brothers, George Soros, Rupert Murdock, etc. other than the fact that they have managed to purchase the country. Through their organizations and front groups they control they have basically purchased the right and the left.  If a person wishes to run for office, they must prostitute themselves to which ever group is handing out the most money. They have corrupted our country to the point where someone like The Pink Flamingo and readers have absolutely nothing to do, not really, with our country.  We like to think we do, but I’m just a single vote.  So are you.  We lack the billions to pour into groups and elections to purchase them, to spread our influence far beyond a single vote.

We need REAL campaign finance reform.

How long are we going to put up with this.  Just because Charles, David, Georgie, and Rupert are worth billions is no sign their opinions and desires are more important than mine or yours.  The fact is, their voices are no more important than mine or yours.  They simply have more money.  They can buy and sell just about any politician in the country.  We cannot.  That’s the difference.

It’s just downright UnAmerican!

From the NY Times:

“...There’s just one element missing from these snapshots of America’s ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the “death panel” warm-up acts of last summer. Three heavy hitters rule. You’ve heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs’ banner may not know who these brothers are.

Their self-interested and at times radical agendas, like Murdoch’s, go well beyond, and sometimes counter to, the interests of those who serve as spear carriers in the political pageants hawked on Fox News. The country will be in for quite a ride should these potentates gain power, and given the recession-battered electorate’s unchecked anger and the Obama White House’s unfocused political strategy, they might.

All three tycoons are the latest incarnation of what the historian Kim Phillips-Fein labeled “Invisible Hands” in her prescient 2009 book of that title: those corporate players who have financed the far right ever since the du Pont brothers spawned the American Liberty League in 1934 to bring down F.D.R. You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League’s crusade against the New Deal “socialism” of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our “socialist” president….The other major sponsor of the Tea Party movement is Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, which, like Americans for Prosperity, is promoting events in Washington this weekend. Under its original name, Citizens for a Sound Economy, FreedomWorks received $12 million of its own from Koch family foundations. Using tax records, Mayer found that Koch-controlled foundations gave out $196 million from 1998 to 2008, much of it to conservative causes and institutions. That figure doesn’t include $50 million in Koch Industries lobbying and $4.8 million in campaign contributions by its political action committee, putting it first among energy company peers like Exxon Mobil and Chevron. Since tax law permits anonymous personal donations to nonprofit political groups, these figures may understate the case. The Kochs surely match the in-kind donations the Tea Party receives in free promotion 24/7 from Murdoch’s Fox News, where both Beck and Palin are on the payroll….

Why are the Koch Brothers involved in the political scene?  In her excellent New Yorker article,Jane Mayer wrote:

“...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.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus….”

Billionaires are poisoning our politics.  The George Soros bunch protested the Koch bunch.

“…During Sunday’s demonstration, Koch and resort security discouraged curious donors from leaving the resort buildings to watch protesters from the grounds, though a photo posted on a Common Cause blog with the headline “We got their attention” appears to show David Koch watching the protest from a resort balcony. And other participants watched from a patio behind a heavily guarded gate, as protesters pressed toward baton-wielding sheriff’s deputies in riot helmets guarding the entrance, waving signs reading “Koch Kills” and “Uncloak the Kochs,” and chanting “David and Charles Koch: Your corporate greed is making us broke.”…And various conservative media outlets and journalists have also assailed the Kochs’ critics, including several who have received funding, honoraria or other payments from Koch-linked non-profits, or donors who attend their conferences – including Reason magazine, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore, and the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney.

Carney, who spoke on Sunday at the conference, and other conservative journalists came in for criticism after the leaked memo revealed that they attended last year’s Koch meeting in Aspen – along with major GOP donor Phil Anschutz, who owns the Washington Examiner….”

Reading the Politico article about the Koch machine – WHY –  must they act the way that they do?  They only feed the paranoia against them.

Where does it end?

“…Democrats – led by Obama, his political adviser David Axelrod and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) – singled out political spending by non-profit groups funded by the Koch brothers, namely Americans for Prosperity, as a campaign issue.

In media appearances, Van Hollen even spelled out the previously little-known brothers’ last name, saying on Al Hunt’s Bloomberg News television show that “Americans for Prosperity which are the Koch Industries, k-o-c-h (are) like the third wealthiest people in the country,” while in a background conference call with reporters a senior administration official suggested Koch Industries might be avoiding corporate taxes – prompting outrage from the Kochs’ allies and calls for an investigation from GOP Senators, who contended the White House may have illegally accessed the company’s tax information.

The Koch brothers, who are worth a reported $21.5 billion each, commissioned polls to test whether public opinion about their privately owned oil, chemical and consumer products company changed in the midst of the attacks….”

Frum Forum

The Koch brothers are angry because they are no longer in the cracks, hiding their political efforts.  There is a comment at Frum Forum about their efforts that do highlight how I feel.

Frum Forum

What is disturbing is the way they hunt out those who try “exposing” their political donations.  Evidently they did not get the message that we live in a free society where multi-billionaires are no more important that Joe Blow or John Green.

The Politico

Aren’t you getting tired of being manipulated by multi-billionaires?

“...A session at the January 2009 Koch donor conference in Palm Springs seemed to highlight the tension between the establishment and the new populist, grassroots movement. It featured a spirited debate about how best to advance free-market conservative principles in Washington between DeMint, who was then emerging as a champion of the anti-establishment conservative movement that became a pillar of the tea party, and Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Cornyn told the donors about Republican efforts to win more seats in the Senate, while DeMint made the argument – as he has repeatedly, both before and since – that the cause would be better served by having a GOP minority comprised entirely of uncompromising conservative purists, than having a majority compromised of moderates and centrists.

“That’s a pretty establishment crowd,” said someone familiar with the panel. “But DeMint completely won them over.”…”

Did the Koch Brothers “buy” this past election?  We know they own Jim DeMint.  How many other members of Congress are owned, lock, stock, and barrel by various multi-billionaires?

Just asking.

It’s about “their” billionaires (George Soros) against “ours” – Rupert Murdock and the Koch Brothers.

The Pink Flamingo has a problem with anyone using their vast fortune to influence the scene political.  Somehow I don’t think those much worshiped Founding Fathers envisioned multi-billionaires spending millions to promote their personal values and agenda.

I don’t care if they are liberal, conservative, green, or libertarian.  I know they have a legal right to do so.  But – what about the moral right?

The Koch Brothers get a tremendous amount of publicity, both pro and con.  I don’t care what side they are on, I don’t approve of what they are doing.  They are making a mockery of the democratic system.

Then again, I still think they have an agenda.

No Quarter USA

The Koch brothers founded the Cato Institute.  Should we scrutinize their business dealings?

“…In 1977, Charles Koch founded the Cato Institute, an influential libertarian think tank, with the aim of injecting free-market ideas into the mainstream. The Kochs would go on to establish and fund a vast network of overlapping think tanks, institutes, foundations, media outlets, and lobby groups that would vilify centralized government and promote laissez-faire capitalism as the only route to economic prosperity. The Mercatus Center, Americans for Prosperity, Reason Magazine, the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation are just a few of the right-wing organizations that run on Koch cash today….”

Exiled Online

Bill Kristol wrote the following about Glenn Beck.  Follow the bouncing ball.

Politico

Have you ever heard of the third Koch brother, William?

“…Once he took over, it was clear that Charles had big plans for Koch Industries. He was going to push the limits of corporate growth by plowing 90% of the company’s profits back into till and diversifying to the max. It worked. The company expanded at an unreal rate: its revenues increased from $100 million in 1966 to $100 billion in 2008—that’s 1,000-fold growth!

Today, it operates thousands of miles of pipelines in the United States, refines 800,000 barrels of crude oil daily, it buys and sells the most asphalt in the nation, is among the top ten cattle producers, and is among the 50 largest landowners. Koch Industries also plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into right-wing organizations like Institute for Humane Studies, the Cato Institute, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Bill of Rights Institute, the Reason Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Federalist Society—all of them promoting the usual billionaire-friendly ideas of the free market, deregulation and smaller government.

If that expansion looks too fast to be legit, that’s because it was.

William Koch, the third brother who had a falling-out with Charles and David back in the ’80s over Charles’ sociopathic management style, appeared on “60 Minutes” in November 2000 to tell the world that Koch Industries was a criminal enterprise: “It was – was my family company. I was out of it,” he says. “But that’s what appalled me so much… I did not want my family, my legacy, my father’s legacy to be based upon organized crime.”

Charles Koch’s racket was very simple, explained William. With its extensive oil pipe network, Koch Industries’ role as an oil middleman–it buys crude from someone’s well and sells it to a refinery–makes it easy to steal millions of dollars worth of oil by skimming just a little off the top of each transaction, or what they call “cheating measurements” in the oil trade. According to William, wells located on federal and Native American lands were the prime targets of the Koch scam….”

The Pink Flamingo finds this sort of thing distasteful, no matter who is pulling the strings – right or left:

The Politico

What gives the billionaires the right to call the shots in American Politics?

“…But the scrutiny from the media, liberal watchdogs and Democrats, including the White House, not only failed to discourage new participants, asserted a source close to the Kochs, it may have increased interest for this weekend’s meeting. “As a result of left-wing attacks, attendance is booming,” said the source.

In addition, the Kochs have been asking select participants to talk publicly about the conference to counter any effort to frame it as a secretive cabal.

Still, when contacted by POLITICO, most of those who had attended past conferences either refused to comment or would do so only on background, with some expressing concern about running afoul of the Koch brothers – who are reportedly worth $21.5 billion each – and being blacklisted from receiving invitations or funding.

According to a POLITICO analysis of Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service Records, participants in last year’s Aspen conference, their clients and companies, have accounted for $48.3 million in contributions to mostly conservative candidates and causes since 2003.

And those tallies don’t include contributions to Koch-backed non-profit groups such as Americans for Prosperity or the Cato Institute which are registered under sections of the tax code that don’t require them to disclose their donors, making it difficult to accurately assess the total impact of Koch-linked giving.

Cain, who is openly discussing a long-shot bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination as a tea party alternative to the front-runners, echoed McDonnell that the left’s criticism is hypocritical.

“The liberals in this country are always looking for a big conservative target, but the Democracy Alliance does the same thing – so why is this one so suspect?” he said, citing a group of Democrat-allied donors who have been meeting twice a year in secret since 2005. ….”

Politico

The Koch Brothers Buy the GOP:

“…When the 85 freshman GOP lawmakers marched into the Capitol on Jan. 5 as part of the new Republican House majority, David Koch was there too.

The 70-year-old had an appointment with a staff member of the new speaker, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). At the same time, the head of Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips, had an appointment with Upton. They used the opportunity to introduce themselves to some of the new legislators and invited them to a welcome party at the Capitol Hill Club, a favorite wine-and-cheese venue for Republican power players in Washington.

The reception was a symbolic arrival for the Kochs, who have not always been close to the Republican hub. The brothers were known as hard-liners unafraid to take on conservative icons — even President Reagan and the American Petroleum Institute — whom they occasionally perceived to be too accommodating to liberal interests. David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate in 1980, when Reagan was the GOP presidential candidate.

The Kochs provided initial funding for the libertarian Cato Institute and are key donors to the Federalist Society, among other conservative organizations.

In recent years, they began drawing conservative media, business and political leaders to semiannual meetings in the West to discuss protection of the free-market ethos and to raise funds for their causes. The most recent was in Rancho Mirage a week ago.

Frustrated with the state of conservatism in Washington during the George W. Bush era, the Kochs began to shift the discussions at recent meetings from fundraising for think tanks to more specific electoral strategy….”

You see, for them, GWB wasn’t good enough.  He wasn’t pure enough.  Naturally – GWB is a neo-con and libertarians enjoy denigrating him.  One only wonders what they would say about Reagan!

The other day I walked into the house about the time Glenn Beck was waxing poetic about the nature of God and I AM. I suspect he had been watching The Ten Commandments

Regular Pink Flamingo readers will probably remember I haul out Proverbs and do a chapter a day during Lend and Advent. I was going to do it during Advent, which starts on November 28, but realized we need a healthy dose of Proverbs.

Proverbs = Wisdom

With just a few exceptions the majority of the Book of Proverbs was written by the wisest man who ever lived King Solomon. This election cycle, I think we need a little wisdom.

Right now all we are getting is hype and extremism. We need good old-fashioned, horse-sense wisdom.

The other day I was listening to something on FOX about how conservative women are treated like dirt by the left and the media. Yea, they are. BUT … Nancy Pelosi has been treated like dirt by the conservative media.

The door swings both ways, right and left. According to my grandfather Froehlich, it eventually comes to rest in the center.

What good does it do to constantly demonize the enemy?

Why did George Soros come into “being” in the first place?

Is it “our” fault?

It’s like this. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. George Soros is the equal and opposite reaction of the extreme of the far right.

People have a right to their opinion and to believe the way that they do without being slammed for it by the usual sources.

Freedom of speech is not the sole proprietorship of the Dems, GOP, liberals, conservatives, Greens, or Tea Parties. Free Speech belongs to everyone. Everyone, including our elected officials have a right to say what they think. They have a right to

The United States has become a Plutocracy.  We are being manipulated by a nation of self-serving billionaires (John Tanton being the exception) who are using our ignorance and pathetic need for power.

Billionaire David Koch is annoyed because his political agenda has been exposed. Boo hoo!

“…And to simply characterize Koch as a Democratic detractor, and a Republican right-winger, would be, well, simplistic. While they have been politically active for more than 30 years, largely funding Republicans, they have never been identified with conservatives on hot-button issues such as gay marriage or abortion. He and his wife Julia have contributed $74,900 to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s Democratic campaign for governor, according to Ira Stoll at www.FutureofCapitalism.com. Politico.com reported that KochPac has contributed $196,000 to Democrats in the 2010 election cycle alone, including $30,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Center describes Koch Industries as a top polluter. But then its polluters list seems to include almost any company that still manufactures stuff in the U.S., including Ford Motor, General Motors, GE, Pfizer, Eastman Kodak, Sony, Honeywell, Berkshire Hathaway, Kimberly Clark, Anheuser Busch, and Goodyear. Furthermore, Koch Industries has supported environmental causes, among other things, donating 682 acres in Oregon to The Nature Conservancy.

But none these accusations—covertly supporting the Tea Party movement, polluting the planet, stealing oil and being a climate-change denier—bother him as much as this: It is the suggestion that his position as a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board, an arm of the National Cancer Institute, presents a “conflict of interest” because Koch Industries has lobbied against the classification of formaldehyde as a carcinogen…”

What do the following have in common?
Richard Mellon Scaife
Joseph Coors
Sun Myung Moon
George Soros
John Tanton
Koch Brothers

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