Top Leaderboard, Site wide
August 22, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Help us grow by sharing
and liking Truthdig:
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Newsletter

sign up to get updates






American Catch


Truthdig Bazaar more items

 
Report

The Billionaire Right-Winger

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Aug 27, 2010

By Joe Conason

Despite the kaleidoscopic proliferation of political media over the past decade, most of what Americans hear and read about the workings of our democracy can be politely termed superficial. Only very rarely does journalism fully penetrate the glittering illusions created by partisans on every side to reveal the grittier realities. When a reporter does blast through the usual scrim of deception, that is worth noting—as in the case of Jane Mayer’s investigation in the current issue of The New Yorker of the Koch family and its malign influence.

For decades, the Koch brothers, billionaire heirs of one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, have covertly sought to promote their hard-right ideology through third parties, think tanks, foundations and front groups. Their late father, Fred, having earned a fortune assisting the nascent Soviet oil industry, eventually became a right-wing extremist and member of the John Birch Society. His sons, especially David Koch, have not only expanded the family business but infiltrated their father’s political views into the mainstream.

Happily for them, the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars on nonprofit and “educational” ventures has served their corporate priorities perfectly. While Mayer cites many examples of self-serving Koch philanthropy that match their more direct program of buying politicians and policies, the enterprise that is currently most pertinent is the tea party movement.

Although the Kochs cannot be said to directly control the tea party outfits, they have succeeded in infusing their priorities, strategies and ideas into the movement through an organization called Americans for Prosperity. Typically, a Koch Industries spokeswoman sought to deny that David Koch, his brother Charles, their company or their foundations have funded the tea parties—and technically that may be true. David Koch says he has never attended a tea party event and that nobody representing the tea party “has ever even approached me.”

It certainly seems unlikely that David Koch has ever encountered any of the folks who turn up at a typical tea party event or that he has ever showed up at a congressional town hall meeting to scream about health care reform. He lives on Park Avenue in a 9,000-square-foot duplex apartment and spends his time cultivating elitist Manhattan society with donations to New York cultural institutions, notably the ballet. He used to divide his time between a yacht in the south of France and a palatial home in the Hamptons, where he hosted “an East Coast version of Hugh Hefner’s soirees” in the clothes-optional Playboy mansion.

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
In short, Mr. Koch is not exactly a pitchfork populist and has no interest in mingling with such unfashionable types. He also doesn’t care much what they think. A former Koch adviser told The New Yorker that the Kochs back the tea party movement for the most cynical reasons. “This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.”

The kind of things that the Kochs want to “get done”—aside from advancing their social profile in places like the Upper East Side—mostly involve reducing taxes and regulations on themselves and their companies.

If they had their way, Social Security and Medicare would disappear tomorrow, and so would any other program that benefits families without a billion dollars at their disposal. So would the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and every other obstacle to their massive effusions of deadly filth. Lately, they have been trying to prevent stricter regulation of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, because their company produces enormous amounts of the stuff for commercial use.

Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and historian who worked at one of the many right-wing think tanks funded by Koch money, believes that the Koch brothers are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.” Perhaps the tea party activists should take a harder look at those policies—and try to figure out whether the national interest truly coincides with the avaricious, destructive attitude of these “libertarians.”

Joe Conason writes for the New York Observer.

© 2010 Creators.com


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, September 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

Well we know who is watching don’t we?

Report this

By KochIndustries, September 9, 2010 at 11:50 am Link to this comment

This story misses or overlooks the facts. Find them here: http://www.kochfacts.com.

Report this

By gerard, August 31, 2010 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

This may pass for investigative journalism, but the humongous political contributions I worry about are those that go into lobbying which buys not only people in government but media, both through advertising and control of editorial policy, and all forms of pro-corporation propaganda. Next to the sum-total of these others, the Kochs are an insignificant factor.

SCOTUS has given all of them free rein.  That’s what we need to investigate and control.  It’s almost safe to say that everybody should ignore everything—or at least take it with a grain of salt.  So how to decide?  By trying to follow the money, by asking why, who is trying to get what, and by that good old American value—“eternal vigilance.”

Report this
BarbieQue's avatar

By BarbieQue, August 31, 2010 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Elroy, August 27 at 9:56 am writes:

“...by pointing out that it gives to all groups,
Republican or Democrat. Well, that has been noted,
and especially so by Jane Mayer…”

I just read Jane Meyers drivel again and there is no mention of the fact that the Koch conglomerate was giving funding to the Democratic Leadership Council and Serving On It’s Executive Council.

See for yourself:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer

a page search for DLC and Democrat was negative.

“David H. Koch in 1996. He and his brother Charles are lifelong libertarians and have quietly given more than a hundred million dollars to right-wing causes.”

So you’re full of it. But thanks for the laugh.

Report this

By felicity, August 30, 2010 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

Adding to ‘firefly’s’ comment - hatred, which is the
‘elephant-in-the-room’ endemic to the rhetoric coming
from the ‘front’ line of the movement, if intense
enough shuts down our thinking processes.

Questioning some of the attendees at the recent Beck
extravaganza, it was clear that they had no idea what
or how their new-found cause could be acted on. 
Blinded by hate already?

Report this

By firefly, August 30, 2010 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

America’s evangelical global battle against
communism, created a population that is ‘terrified’
of anything that may seem leftwing. This gives
characters like the Koch family a huge advantage that
they wouldn’t have anywhere else in the world. They
can manipulate fear and bigotry for their own
advantage and they do. Not only do they have to
spread the notion that Obama is a ‘socialist’ (shock,
horror, gasp), but that he is an Islamic sympathizer
(equal shock, horror, gasp). The majority of the mob,
have no idea what is truly good or bad for them
personally, so they hang on to the propaganda like a
religion.

Report this
BrunoDiderot's avatar

By BrunoDiderot, August 30, 2010 at 5:58 am Link to this comment

I met Dave Koch back in the late 70s, when I was going through my Libertarian
phase.

He pretended to be a libertarian ... because I was young and easily misled, it
took me all of two minutes (not the 10 seconds the process would require
today) to figure out that he was just an opportunistic, rich right-winger who
had gotten lucky (i.e., through his father) re: oil and was pretending to be a
libertarian because he saw in libertarians (and he was mostly correct, here) as
mostly conservatives who were embarrassed to identify themselves as such.

He maintains ties to the CATO INSTITUTE (pretentiously-named, to say the
least!) and other organizations (most of which he founded, behind the scenes or
out in public) for the same clever reason.

But he is no genuine libertarian.  He just “talks individual freedom” because he
is able to link same with the idea that he should be free to buy tax breaks and
other “law breaks”—all the while pretending to be pro-laissez-faire—in
order to amass more and more wealth.

Report this

By cadawa, August 29, 2010 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I see from the comments that the Koch Bros. pockets are deep enough to pay some jackboots to crouch on Truthdigs website, attack the journalists and attempt to poison any intelligent discussion.

Report this

By jim, August 28, 2010 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sounds like the leftist likes it here. Nut jobs Please stay here so the rest of us people can breathe a little easier. Thank you,loonies. Kames

Report this
anaman51's avatar

By anaman51, August 28, 2010 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment

I don’t know why anyone is surprised by this. It’s common knowledge that every aspect of our government overseen by the elected lawmakers is up for sale. It has been since the beginning. Enough money will buy anything in this country. Already being sold on a daily basis are legal justice, access to decent medical care, and a level playing field in the electoral arena. If you want a law favorable to your business or concern to pass, all that needs to be done is to pay off whichever elected whore is necessary to make it happen. That’s what lobbyists are for. Rich people get what they want in this country, and we get to live with the ramifications.

Report this

By Carol DW, August 28, 2010 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Three cheers for you Joe. I saw the New Yorker article and was hoping the Progressive echo chamber would augment and amplify it.
The radical right wing movements that are plaguing this country, poisoning the public dialogue and taking over our institutions is a not a grassroots movement.
It is a top down, predatory business, funded by the Koch and others who are immenseley well, do no meaningful work and are more than a little bit crazy. Their prey are on the abused, the left behind, the undereducated and underinformed that become their foot soldiers. 
They fund these groups, lie to them and as you said help to shape their message while providing unlimited media access. (100,000 peace marchers get no air time and Glenn Beck’s well costumed and paid cheerleaders are all over the press?0
A handful of people are fomenting culture wars by exploiting the differences among us (most of which have constitutional protection). They seek to divide us, to breed distrust and weaken our constitutional protections and civil rights.
It’s corporate power that wins if they are successful, not people power.

Report this

By bogi666, August 28, 2010 at 5:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Koch’s anti taxation is just a smoke screen for Fascist take over of the USG. The Koch’s get protection from the Pentagon to protect their investments world wide as do many Corporations some of who[persons SCOTUS]locate outside the USA to avoid U.S. taxes but are afforded protection by the Pentagon/spy agencies. These are the same PREDATORY CAPITALIST WELFARE KINGS whom complain about being taxed,but derive the benefits of taxes paid by individual Americans. NO REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION.

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, August 27, 2010 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment

If your goal is to define the boundaries of acceptible political discourse, then any sensible manipulator would always take care to funnel a little money into every open palm out there. The Kochs would be idiots, which they so obviously are not, if they had not given money to various Democratic Party-based entities over the years, like the Democratic Leadership Council.

Your direct quote. Stop stressing and take a stress pill, your flaming over reaction is unnecessary. Of course you didn’t write that material, I did! Unless you want me banned from this forum and this is the best way to do it? I commented and expanded upon your point. Why does that bother you? That’s what happens on these forums so don’t bother them over this or they may ban you for annoyance over nothing.

If this is your first time you should review their forum rules so that you won’t make this mistake again.

Report this

By richardbelldc, August 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

Something has gone wrong with this web comment feature. There is a comment which is attributed to me which I did not write, to wit the following, which appeared mixed into a comment attributed to “Night Gaunt” at 3:51 p.m. August 27.

I did not write the following material, and call on the moderators of this forum to remove this material immediately, or attribute it correctly to whoever did submit it. Please notify me as soon as this correction has been made. This mistake makes me think that someone may be hacking your comment system.

richardbelldc, its called covering you bets. There are enough collaborators in the Democrats to get the job done. The infiltration has gone on long and deep. It helps that the ideas of unlimited Capitalism and useless gov’t are considered normal and natural.

Report this

By felicity, August 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

The Koch bunch live in a completely different reality
than the other 98% of us. (It reminds me of Barbara
Bush’s remark when she visited the building housing
(on the floor) thousands of poor people who were
victims of Katrina - something like, “Well, they
probably never had it so good.” 

The mega-rich-all-their-lives do what they do, back
whatever or whoever will let them keep, and increase,
their riches.  Party affiliation has little to do
with where they put their money.

Besides, the Koch(s) are merely following the motto
of any good capitalist - make profit as close to the
poison line as possible.

Report this

By Izquierda, August 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the Kock brothers themselves don’t care for the publicity they should come out & disprove everything that they find at fault. They are a huge oil corporation that began with a Soviet partnership then helped to found the John Birch Society. They are the creators of AFP & it’s driving force, they did help to conceive, create & continue to enable the teabag movement. They are trying to kill all social programs that effect their bottom line & every environmental law & regulation for the same reason, just themselves & their profits.
Despite the good things that they want you to know about them, these are a few of the inconvenient facts that they’d much rather we didn’t know.
The very nature of their influence & promotion is under the radar. That benefit has come to an end.

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, August 27, 2010 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

“If they had their way, Social Security and Medicare would disappear tomorrow, and so would any other program that benefits families without a billion dollars at their disposal. So would the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and every other obstacle to their massive effusions of deadly filth. Lately, they have been trying to prevent stricter regulation of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, because their company produces enormous amounts of the stuff for commercial use.”

Sounds Libertarian to me. We could go to court but who could stand up to their billions of dollars? I’m sure they would like to make their company and any other of a certain size to have the same “rights” as countries. Wouldn’t that be interesting. And terrifying. Just hope they don’t have any such ideas.

BarbieQue, isn’t the DNC also a right wing outfit? Don’t let the “D” fool you.

Fat Freddy, the “outrage” is there but the boondoggle mind-fuck still lingers heavily as it was supposed too. Obama isn’t Liberal nor Progressive and maybe never was, but he isn’t now for sure. This I could see as he ran his campaign but the psyops used was very well timed. It won’‘t work once you come to recognize that the Democrats have been taken over like the Republicans by crypto-fascists who have another agenda.

The play on a desperate populace who needed a “break” from the obvious fascists with the “other party” that really isn’t any different in its leadership. The Democrats aren’t as taken over as the Republicans but it is enough it seems.

richardbelldc, its called covering you bets. There are enough collaborators in the Democrats to get the job done. The infiltration has gone on long and deep. It helps that the ideas of unlimited Capitalism and useless gov’t are considered normal and natural.

By rico suave, August 27 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

“This is another lazy fill-in-the-blanks piece. Change “Koch” to ” George Soros” and right to left and it would make just as much sense.”

I see you take your own advice—-good for you! But I’ve seen this ploy before and it is as tiresome as it is lazy. Where and how exactly? Just because he is rich doesn’t necessarily make him like them at all. But I am open to your examples. Please do so.

Also Soros hardly compares to the legion of million & billionaires who are on the Reich wing side. He and we are outnumbered in the areas of funding, outlets and organizations. Unless you listen to the master obfuscatorialist—-Glenn Beck, who says the opposite is true. Just so long as you don’t search for the truth of it.

Report this

By ocjim, August 27, 2010 at 10:12 am Link to this comment

I know that it is the way of our culture for celebrities or billionaires to get more notice and certainly to push their minority agendies because of their positions or their money.

Somehow that seems less and less fair in a democracy more and more deaf to the needs of the majority. Couple this propaganda and pandering by the rich with protective services that government does not perform (FDA, EPA, health care,etc) and the constant soliciting for money by Greenpeace, Freeclinics and such, services that our government is supposed to provide, and we no longer have a viable democracy.

Report this

By balkas, August 27, 2010 at 7:32 am Link to this comment

It’s all legal and as commanded by the bible, qoran, and US constitution or, if you prefer,commanded-demmanded by the interpreters of the bible, koran and with full approval of congress,judges,lawyers, WH, business people, cia, fbi, generals, police and another 50mn rabid americans.
It is not approved by indigenes, prisoners, house people, hobos, and the like.
So, since when is this not news? Well, since, media had been privatized and started giving us own produce! tnx

Report this

By richardbelldc, August 27, 2010 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

If your goal is to define the boundaries of acceptible political discourse, then any sensible manipulator would always take care to funnel a little money into every open palm out there. The Kochs would be idiots, which they so obviously are not, if they had not given money to various Democratic Party-based entities over the years, like the Democratic Leadership Council.

Such giving is, however, little more than a distraction from the overwhelming right-wing thrust of most of the Kochs’ spending.

Report this

By ernie1241, August 27, 2010 at 7:06 am Link to this comment

Not really Rico.  Soros never associated himself with
an organization (such as the Birch Society) whose
viewpoints even J. Edgar Hoover described as
“extremist”, “irrational” and “irresponsible”.

Soros has never claimed (as has the Birch Society)
that virtually our entire national leadership since
the 1920’s has been comprised of traitors, Communist
sympathizers, Communist dupes, and Communist agents.

Charles was a JBS member and his father, Fred, was a
founding member of the JBS and served on its National
Council.  Daddy Fred made speeches in 1961 in which
he claimed that our U-2 pilot, Francis Gary Powers,
was not shot down over the Soviet Union.  Instead,
according to Daddy Fred, Powers was in collusion with
the Soviets.

Report this
rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, August 27, 2010 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

This is another lazy fill-in-the-blanks piece. Change “Koch” to ” George Soros” and right to left and it would make just as much sense.

Report this

By ernie1241, August 27, 2010 at 6:35 am Link to this comment

FYI:  Not generally known (and missed even in the
recent New Yorker article) is that Charles Koch was a
member of the John Birch Society until 1968.

Report this

By Elroy, August 27, 2010 at 5:56 am Link to this comment

A poster here says Joe Conason “and other blatant
lying partisans” “fan the flames of division”, and
adds that “people like me really enjoy seeing
pompous hate flingers like you make yourself look
stupid.”

The poster, it seems, is trying to neutralize the
effect of Koch Industries’ bankrolling of the Tea
Party by pointing out that it gives to all groups,
Republican or Democrat. Well, that has been noted,
and especially so by Jane Mayer. That does not hide
the fact that an increasingly-influential rightwing
political movement is not as “grass roots” as the
media paints it; that Big Business, including Koch
and Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda machines, are
keeping it alive - actually “fanning the flames of
division” as poor Joey Conason could never do, even
if he relly wanted to.

That’s the news; stifling it would indeed be
partisan.

Report this
Mike789's avatar

By Mike789, August 27, 2010 at 4:54 am Link to this comment

NPR - Terry Gross - interviewed Jane Mayer noon yesterday. Replay available at NPR.com

The Kock brothers name had pooped up over the past couple of days, so I listened in, not having any knowledge of their politics.

A couple of previous posts were informative as well.

What stands out to me is that Mayer makes it plain that although Soros cooperated and was totally open, the Kochs refused an interview.

To me the issue is that tacit corporate influence will go unchecked, even from foreign sources, without some accountability.

The typical Tea-bagger is not prone to google Koch, not having had a notion of his existence to begin with.

The issue of “crowd control” in the guise of[subterfuge] to sway public opinion in opposition to regulations directed at polluters, carbon taxation, etc. is what ought to be addressed. An open dicussion of the facts and who, why and what a [person?] has a stake should be transparent.

Report this
Fat Freddy's avatar

By Fat Freddy, August 27, 2010 at 3:51 am Link to this comment

Has Jane Mayer been living under a rock?

Exactly how are the Koch brothers under the radar or underground? They show up every year in the Forbes super-rich lists. Charles Koch wrote a best-selling business book a year or two ago and makes no secret of his belief in free markets and limited government. David Koch ran for vice president of these United States on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980 (where he helped Ed Clark pull over 900,000 votes, by far the highest total gained by the LP). Both are known for a wide range of philanthropic giving, whether to arts and medical outfits or think tanks or political action groups.

Full disclosure: David Koch has been on the board of trustees of Reason Foundation, the publisher of this website, for decades, and his name appears in the masthead of Reason magazine; I have also taught at various programs for the Institute for Humane Studies, which the Kochs fund, and will speak at an Americans for Prosperity event later this week. While I have never had more than brief interaction with either brother, I am perhaps overdue in thanking them on this blog for supporting my career at Reason, where I have argued in favor of gay marriage, drug legalization, non-interventionist foreign policy, open borders, sales in human organs, an end to corporate welfare, and a wide variety of other shamelessly libertarian policies.

- Nick Gillespie Reason Magazine | August 25, 2010

http://reason.com/blog/2010/08/25/the-official-koch-industries-r

Mayer’s article is just a smear campign against Libertarians in an attempt to paint them as neo-con Tea Baggers. A few hours of simple research would have revealed that the official Libertarian Party has very little in common with Tea Party candidates, or causes. The official Libertarian Party has been in existence since 1971, long before any Tea Parties.

It is unfortunate that some Libertarians were fooled by the Tea Parties, early on. It is also unfortunate that, despite our best efforts, the MSM continues to fabricate a non-existent alliance between the Libertarian Party and the Tea Party. Ms. Mayer, obviously, did not do her homework. Shame on her.

Official Libertarian Party platform:

http://www.lp.org/platform

In the last presidential election cycle, Bob Barr ran against Mike Gravel for the Libertarian Party nomination, with Bob Barr winning by a narrow margin.

Personally, I voted for Obama, in the hopes that he would end the wars, close Gitmo, end torture and restore due process, and repeal the Patriot Act. He has done none of these things. In fact, under his leadership, we now target American citizens abroad for assassination with no due process or judicial or Congressional oversight. The president, and the Executive branch now have a license to kill Americans. Thank you Pres. Obama. Where is the outrage from the left?

Report this
BarbieQue's avatar

By BarbieQue, August 27, 2010 at 2:55 am Link to this comment

Joey Joey Joey

Either you left out the stuff about Koch Industries giving funding to the Democratic Leadership Council and *Serving On It’s Executive Council” or you didn’t know about it. Not too sure which is worse, but at least you’ll make me think about that for a minute.

“Koch Industries gave funding to the DLC and served on its Executive Council” by Joe Sudbay on 8/25/2010

“But, here’s a key piece of information: the Kochs haven’t just given to right-wingers. Back in April of 2001, The American Prospect’s Bob Dreyfuss reported that the Kochs also funded the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)...

...One member of the DLC’s executive council is none other than Koch Industries, the privately held, Kansas-based oil company whose namesake family members are avatars of the far right

...The DLC board of trustees is an elite body whose membership is reserved for major donors,

http://www.americablog.com/2010/08/koch-industries-gave-funding-to-dlc-and.html

*******

“And for $25,000, 28 giant companies found their way onto the DLC’s executive council, including Aetna, AT&T, American Airlines, AIG…

...Few, if any, of these corporations would be seen as leaning Democratic, of course, but here and there are some real surprises. One member of the DLC’s executive council is none other than Koch Industries

How the DLC Does It Robert Dreyfuss | April 22, 2001
http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=how_the_dlc_does_it


This, Joey, is exactly why you and other blatant lying partisans are so frustrating to read. When this country needs voices for unity, all people like you seem to be able to do is fan the flames of division.

Or you’re simply ignorant and can’t quite figure out how to effectively use Google. In the meantime, people like me really enjoy seeing pompous hate flingers like you make yourself look stupid.

So, thanks for that.

Report this
 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.

Like Truthdig on Facebook