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The Grand Illusion, Part II

September 1st, 2010 · No Comments · Corporations and Industry, Lobbying, Media, Politics, Taxes

Part II — Who is telling all those lies…and why?

They met on the mall in Washington, that renowned place for great assemblies. They were baby-boomers and beyond and overwhelmingly white. (Maybe when you call a Liberal African-American President, raised by white grandparents a ‘racist” as Glenn Beck did, you may turn away people of color.)

Glenn Beck spoke about religion, a subject about which he is eminently unqualified to speak. Sarah Palin, the femme du jour of the Republicans, the failed governor of Alaska, failed Vice Presidential candidate, failed mother…spoke….about….something.

It will not be long remembered. Most people have forgotten it already. This modest assembly to “restore America” will not be long remembered in a place of so many significant assemblies of concerned citizens. The only person clear on what is being restored is Glenn Beck, and that appears to be his version of some kind of new Christian doctrine. Doctrine may be to complex a word to describe it. “Fantasy” might be better.

Other marches will continue to be remembered. Coxey’s rag-tag band in 1894, marching from Ohio, after our first really big recession, to protest joblessness and the lack of concern for the People would only set the precedent for other marches. Some would protect economic conditions or wars, others for a variety of reasons, but all meant to dramatize a cause…not to promote a charlatan and a mope.

Beck’s “Restoring Honor” day will not likely be remembered as long as the assembly in the Spring of 1939, when Marian Anderson held her famous concert after the Daughters of the American Revolution would not allow her to use Constitution Hall because she was black.

Nor will it be remembered as long as Cox’s Army or the Bonus Army marches of 1932 calling for jobs in the heart of the Great Depression. President Hoover sent General Douglas MacArthur, who brought his adjutant, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower to scatter them and send them on their way.

Beck’s group will never be remembered in conjunction with the magnificent assembly by Martin Luther King. It might appear somewhere in some obscure footnote to Dr. King’s dramatic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where 250,000 people and a national television audience in the millions watched Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Nor will it be remembered as long as the anti-Vietnam War assembly of 100,000 in 1967 that led to the famous march on the Pentagon described vividly in Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize winning non-fiction novel, “Armies of the Night.” Or the subsequent anti-war marches and assemblies at the Lincoln Memorial of half a million people each in 1969 and 1971.

It will not be remembered as well as those of the March for Life in 1974, or the Solidarity Day march of 1981 or the Million Man march of 1995 or the Promise Keepers of 1997 or the Lesbian and Gay Rights marches of 1979, 1983 or 1997.

Part of the reason it will not is that people can smell a fraud a mile away. This one they could smell from anywhere in the continental U.S. and even more easily overseas. It was clear from the very beginning that “Restoring Honor” was a metaphor for something else.

That other issue, the silent, unspoken issue was the real significant point of the day. There were important people involved. Not Glenn Beck. He was the stooge, finally being used by others rather than his using the media for his own enrichment.

There was more than met the eye. Those 87,000 or 100,000 while, aging ciphers who sat in their folding aluminum lawn chairs with their pot bellies and the buttons on their surplus-store baseball caps did not transport themselves, organize themselves. They couldn’t organize a little league game. Someone else put this together, and those interests were the ones who had something that they want to restore.

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It is early evening, dark in the chill November air of Manhattan. At Lincoln Center amid the lights and traffic men in tuxedos and well-coiffed women in evening gowns exits cars and limousines and enter the complex. In that November evening of 2008, gasoline will have dropped from $4 a gallon and oil dropped from $147 a barrel. They dropped because everything dropped.

A month before, the old and at one time venerable investment house, Lehman Brothers had collapsed amid a torrent of investment and insurance and banking companies and the stock market crashing. It was the panic of 2008, the beginning of the Bush recession. For most Americans, it would be a shock like no other, making them feels as vulnerable as 9/11 had made them feel insecure. It would become the Great Bush Recession.

But tonight was a celebration. One man, one family had stepped up to endow and assure the future of the New York State Theatre, which would now and for fifty years be called the David H. Koch Theater of Lincoln Center. The state had to cede the name to him. He has more money than the State of New York.

His $100 million gift would be a welcome one and a needed one but what most people at that gala didn’t know was that David H. Koch could have endowed the New York State Theater, now the David H. Koch Theater, with $100 million a year for each of the entire 50 years and left three quarters of his fortune intact. Still, it was a nice gesture.

In November of 2008, men like David H. Koch, no matter how well insulated were taking some hits. Fabulously rich men often do. But the average American was taking a worse hit. Over 500, 000 American workers lost their jobs in November 2008 alone and the disaster would get worse, not abating until a stimulus plan in March of 2009 gradually began to close the lid on the most terrifying episode in American employment history since 1930. The country seemed to be heading for a huge Depression.

David Koch rebounded. But others did not. If you follow Broadway up the west side of Manhattan it crosses Amsterdam and if you follow Amsterdam up to 113th street you will reach the Episcopal Cathedral of the City of New York, and their charities. If you ask around, you can be directed to a soup kitchen, where thousands of people are fed each day, each week, month, year…part of the 1.3 million hungry people fed each year in New York City.

They are jobless, often homeless, people just like you or someone in your family…not drunks or drug addicts…many simply laid off from what they thought was a good job…one of 15 million in the country since the Bush Recession started in December of 2007.

Episcopal Charities is only one of the 15 or 20 soup kitchens, food banks, homeless shelters in Manhattan. Good, you say? Good that we are feeding the homeless? No. It is not good. There are more…in Flushing, Cedarhurst, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx and adjacent New Jersey locations hard by the river.

It is not the job of churches to feed homeless people like beggars on the streets of Bombay or the alleys of some slum neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. This is the United States of America. We are supposed to have a representative Democracy, so that when a problem of great magnitude arises, we solve it. We act…from the People for the People.

We don’t build theatres for the New York City Ballet and say that we are very happy with our society…thank you very much. We should be hiring the homeless. We should be creating places and systems to take on the statistical problems of people falling through the cracks of an active vibrant entrepreneurial society.

People would have to say that David Koch is a good man. He was cured of prostate cancer and spectacularly survived a plane crash in 1991. Since then, hedging his bets, he has given $15 million to New York Presbyterian Hospital, the University Hospital of both Columbia and Cornell Universities. He has given $20 million to Johns Hopkins University, $25 million to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, $100 million to MIT, his alma mater and that of his father, for cancer research, and $40 million to Sloan-Kettering Hospital and Cancer Research Center.

He has given $20 million to the American Museum of Natural History in New York and $15 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington. He gave $25 million to his old prep school, Deerfield Academy. He dropped a measly $10 million on the venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art to restore the fountains on Fifth Avenue. All that philanthropy is obviously…almost an understatement to say…very commendable.

But what price philanthropy? The problem with Charles and David Koch is that, on the one hand, they give to foundations and institutions, and on the other hand, they want to make all the decisions about where their money goes. There is nothing wrong with that in principle. But we live in a communal society, a commonwealth of shared responsibility.

So, if we had a total collapse in the United States, the Koch brothers might fund more hospital research to take up the slack, but they would fight to keep all their money…pay no taxes to the federal government, to do so. So, would everyone pay no taxes? Who decides what money to give for roads? If the Koch brothers only take planes and all the other people who have made fortunes or inherited fortunes from living in the United States rather than China or Russia or even Great Britain…should they be allowed to simply re-do the fountains at the Met?

With the Koch brothers, the problem is more complex. They are lobbying to insure that no millionaire or billionaire pays taxes to the federal government. So how would the government survive? It wouldn’t. And that is the crux of the story of the Koch brothers.

David Koch is not new to politics. His father, Fred, was up to his ears in the Conservative movement before Ronald Reagan mad it seem semi-rational. The American people actually had it right in those days…Conservatives are lunatics.

David Koch, chemist, basketball star at M.I.T., and heir to billions, ran on the Libertarian ticket for Vice President in 1979 at the age of 30, spending $2 million of his own money on the campaign. The platform gives us an idea of the Koch Family philosophy.

The Libertarians wanted to do away with all personal and corporate income taxes, terminate Social Security, end the minimum wage, end all gun control laws, and legalize, prostitution, recreational drugs and suicide. But they went further, and wanted to eliminate the SEC, the Department of Energy, the FBI, and basically any regulation that would affect Koch Industries, the tenth largest polluter in the United States.

Even in a year when the Conservative Reagan was elected, and got one of every two votes, they got one of every hundred votes. Even the Conservative icon William F. Buckley thought that they were nuts.

The Koch brothers probably realized then that the way to get things done was by stealth. And that is how they have operated ever since. In 1984, they founded Citizens for a Sound Economy, a lobbying and organizing group that was charged with promoting primarily anti-government, anti-regulation and anti-tax legislation, but also hired itself out to aid the tobacco industry and other Right Wing groups.

In 2004, Citizens for a Sound Economy split into two groups, FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. It was these two groups who became prominent during the health insurance industry’s propaganda war in 2009 against affordable health care programs by sending mobs to disrupt the town hall meetings of Democratic legislators trying to discuss the facts about health care with voters.
Both organizations, under the Koch family aegis have allied themselves with multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s media company, News Corp, and the Fox News Channel staff, under former GOP Party Chairman, Roger Ailes, attacks the current government and President Obama relentlessly, stronger, almost, than Goebbels attacked the Jews or the KKK attacked African-Americans.

But it is the same idea, vilify, create hatred, fear, lie and exaggerate until the uneducated, the superstitious, the fundamentalist religious are brought to an emotional pitch of anger against a completely fabricated administration…one that exists only in the mind of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the other paid flacks of the Plutocrats, Koch and Murdoch….billionaires.

The Koch family is as prolific in distributing money to Right Wing political causes as it is in its charitable giving. FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity both take credit for bringing about the tea party marches and disruptions of the health care legislation process, then the financial reform process.

They were successful in bribing enough Congressmen and Senators on the Left….they already owned the Right…to water them down enough to make them both weaker than experts say they must be to help the People. The Koch family does not care about People. They care about money…and power…and control.

Between 1998 and 2008, Charles Koch spent a total of $76 million on Right Wing political causes. David Koch spent $120 million. So, do you still wonder how those 87,000 people got to Washington, D.C? This was a Fox News-Koch Family event. It was just another, larger, assembly of the same stooges that disrupted health care reform.

Glenn Beck used it for his own purposes, to promote himself and his image and his popularity among the largely hick-fundamentalists who showed up. So did Sarah Palin. If appearing on television in a reality television show can make you a millionaire…showing up at a rally, with all expense paid, spouting Right Wing lies for Murdoch and the Koch Family will make you ten times that amount.

And that is exactly how much Sarah Palin has made since leaving little Wasilla, population 8,000 or since being governor of Alaska (for half a term) a state with the population of Des Moines. Glenn Beck is a much better huckster and has the advantage of experience as a rock-and-roll disk jockey. He knows how to wring every last one of his $32 million out of an unsuspecting audience.

In addition to the money that Charles and David have given personally, the political PAC..political action committee..has given another $8 million to Right Wing politicians and the company has spent $50 million on lobbying. David Koch gave $1 million to the Republican Governors organization.

The attacks that this money buys are designed to reinforce the natural proclivities towards greed of many of the Republican congressmen and Senators who join the Neocon Party because they believe in less government and the power of big corporations. These men, like Steven King of Iowa, Louie Gohmert of Texas and John Boehner of Ohio are not political statesmen or theorists. They are hacks, with no other jobs, men who have fallen into a pot of gold and don’t ever want to leave. They will do anything, say anything to get ahead. Nothing they do, nothing at all, is designed to help their constituents…unless it also helps the sponsors of the Neocon Party.

In 1986, the Kochs founded the Cato Institute, giving them $11 million over several years. The Cato Institute took on the Koch issue, an oil industry issue, of global warming, hiring hundreds of people to scour research papers and the Internet to create doubt by hiring oil-industry-paid scientists to write papers counter to the evidence…which is overwhelming.

They were able to find some informal correspondence between some scientists which they twisted into an argument that the unsuspecting public bought, thus reducing the public confidence in global warming data. This is another piece of evidence that the Kochs have no concern with people, only with their own personal agenda.

The Kochs endowed George Mason University with $30 million to create the Mercatus Center, a research organization. While the organization has been referred to by George Mason as independent, it is probably more than a coincidence that most of George W. Bush’s anti-regulation policies coincided with recommendations of the Mercatus Center and that most of the reports of Mercatus seem to dovetail perfectly with the interests of Koch Industries.

David Koch has publicly acknowledged his origination of the Americans for Prosperity movement and their subsequent development of the Tea Party group. The Americans for Prosperity group sponsored over 80 rallies to do the same thing against cap-and-trade legislation that would have forced energy companies to begin to change to renewable energy and thus create millions of new jobs for American workers.

The problem is that there would be requirements levied on Koch Industries and other oil firms to create a new more energy-efficient and self-sustaining energy environment in this country. As one of the big polluters in the country, having paid tens of millions in fines, the Koch brothers will not go gentle into any good night where money comes out of their pocket unless they want it to.

If you wonder about rallies and the Tea Party, do yourself a favor. Look up the word “Koch” on the Internet and the name of the organization. If it says People in Favor of Green Energy or Health Care or Clean Air…look carefully at what they say. And then think to yourself….would this possibly mean regulation or regulations for Koch Industries? If it would, then you know the arguments that they promote to “help the People” are really things that will “help Koch Industries.”

If you want to read a truly extensive piece on what is really happening go to a much better article than ours, by Jane Mayer, here.

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