"There is looming up a new and dark power. ... The accumulation of individual wealth seems to be greater than it ever has been since the downfall of the Roman Empire. And the enterprises of the country are aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marching, not for economic conquests only but for political power."
So said Edward Ryan, the populist jurist of the mid-nineteenth century whose rage at the corruption of democracy by the wealthy and their corporations inspired generations of progressives and populists to try to constrain "the money power."
Ryan's warning, delivered in 1873, described the politics of the twenty-first century more accurately than most of the reporting by today's pliant contemporary media.
"For the first time really in our politics, money is taking the field as an organized power," he explained. "It is unscrupulous, arrogant and overbearing."
But it is not proud.
No matter what the billionaire Koch brothers and their operatives say.
This week, it has been revealed that Charles and David Koch and their wealthy partners funded an, until now, "secret bank" that made "grants" of $236 million during the 2012 election cycle to maintain the right-wing political infrastructure that advances their economic interests. And by all accounts, they're just getting started.
When the official paperwork is filed with the Internal Revenue Service in short order, it will, according to documents shared by the new "Freedom Partners" group with Politico, reveal massive "grants" to undermine implementation of the Affordable Care Act ($115 million to the anti-Obamacare Center to Protect Patient Rights), maintain the Tea Party movement and related political projects ($32.3 million to Americans for Prosperity and smaller checks for the Tea Party Express and the Tea Party Patriots), promote Paul Ryan's austerity agenda on Social Security and Medicare ($15.7 to the conservative 60-Plus Association), promote the right-wing social agenda in the states ($8.2 million to the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee), shore up the gun lobby ($3.5 million to the National Rifle Association) and develop the ability of conservative groups to use data mining to advance their projects ($5 million to the Themis Trust voter database initiative).