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General News    H1'ed 11/1/13

How the Koch Brothers Did the Shutdown

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   I covered previously the decades-long Koch-operation that got us to where we are (see those earlier posts  here , and  here , and  here , and  here ). I shall now describe the money-trail from there to Senator Ted Cruz, who directly headed the shutdown-effort in the U.S. Congress.

   The two chief contributors to Cruz's political career donated over a million dollars to it (and no other entity donated as much as $100,000 to it). As one of my earlier posts had noted,  shows that the top sources of contributions to Mr. Cruz's political career were Club For Growth, and Senate Conservatives Fund, which together donated over a million dollars to it. Open Secrets also  explained  that the #5 contributor, Goldman Sachs, additionally managed his money and provided his health insurance, and that his wife is a vice president of GS. Moreover, the #17 contributor to Cruz, Berkshire Hathaway (headed by a "Democrat," Warren Buffett, who prominently mouths against Republican policies), hired Baker Botts as their law firm, and BB was the #8 Cruz donor. So, as this example (BH) shows, Cruz actually had bipartisan support among the aristocracy.

   In fact, this bipartisanship is also shown when one probes yet deeper: for example, Berkshire Hathaway's top ten recipients of political cash during 2011-12  were , in order: Republican Governors Association, (Karl Rove's) American Crossroads, Democratic Governors Association, Republican State Leadershp Committee, Republican National Committee, Mitt Romney for President, National Republican Congressional Committee, (Rick Perry's) Make Us Great Again, Democratic National Committee Services Corp., and National Republican Senatorial Committee. Two of those ten recipients are Democratic, but they received only 17% of the total BH political dollars. Republicans received the other 83%. So, even some "Democratic" aristocrats have been heavily funding the Republicans who caused the shutdown and who threatened to violate the 14th Amendment by bringing the U.S. Government into default on its existing debts.

   Here now is some background on those two top funders of Cruz's career: 

   The Club for Growth, which was the top donor ($700,000+) to Cruz, was founded in 1999 by Steve Moore. As Right Wing Watch has  noted , "Before founding the Club for Growth, Moore was the director of fiscal policy at the Cato Institute, and has stayed on as a Senior Fellow."

   Here is how iron the Koch's control over the Cato Institute was, and is: David Weigel at  bannered on 25 June 2012,  "Ed Crane Steps Down to End Koch Brothers' Attempted Coup at Cato,"  and Weigel reported that the Kochs were firing Crane (who by that time was America's longest-serving think-tank CEO), because he wasn't doing a good enough job to "provide intellectual ammunition that we can then use at Americans for Prosperity and our allied organizations" in order to oust Barack Obama and the Democrats, and replace them with Republicans. When the Kochs had provided the start-up money for Cato in 1976, they became its controlling owners, and now they were firing its creator, Crane, so as to assist Mitt Romney's 2012 Republican Presidential campaign. Subsequently, Weigel, who was already working under a false headline that called this firing (of the since-the-founding leader of Cato, their employee Ed Crane) as being no coup but only an "Attempted" coup, softened Slate's account even further. He changed it to say that the Kochs had actually lost what they wanted, and that the integrity of their "think tank" was maintained, because the Kochs hadn't been able to boot also a dissident board-member. This, now the third version of Weigel's story, got an even softer headline: "Cato at Peace." The key quotation that had been in the original version, "provide intellectual ammunition that we can then use at Americans for Prosperity and our allied organizations," wasn't even included in the final version of Weigel's news report, but there was, finally, added to it a shocking admission, buried right in the middle of the third version, an admission that should have been at very the top or bottom of each one of its two prior versions:  "(Disclosure: I worked at Reason magazine, which got Koch funding, for two-and-a-half years.)" In other words: it seems that, throughout his reporting on this, Weigel didn't want to offend his past employers (ultimately the Kochs), who might, after all, someday become, yet again, his employers. But Slate was apparently conflicted about whether to report at all on this blockbuster news story of his - their editors not only gave it deceptive headlines, but they also let slip in its first two versions the reporter's possibly compromised position reporting on it.

   (Disclosure: I won a Menken Award for the Year's Best Investigative News Report for  an article  that I was commissioned to do for Reason in 1981, but I was never employed by Reason.)

   As the Right Wing Watch report also noted regarding the leadership of the Club For Growth: "Board Members: CFG President Pat Toomey; Vice President Chuck Pike [who was Toomey's long-time buddy]; Richard Gilder, formerly Chairman of the Manhattan Institute; and Thomas Rhodes, President of National Review magazine," and the CFG is "associated with a variety of right-wing organizations, including the Heritage Foundation." Each one of those entities and persons has been the recipient of much Koch "charitable" cash, even besides the payments for leadership in the CFG.

   Club for Growth was also overwhelmingly the largest direct donor to Jim DeMint's political career  during 2007-2012  ($157,067 as compared to the #2 direct donor, Scana Corp., which is a S.C. energy company, $49,475); Koch Industries itself was #6 (at $22,000); Club for Growth was also the largest direct donor throughout DeMint's  entire  political career, but the #2, again Scana Corp., gave two-thirds as much, far closer; Koch was #12. In other words: the longer that DeMint was in politics, the more impressed that the Club for Growth and the Kochs became with his performance. Perhaps that's why, in 2012, they handed him the leadership of Heritage Foundation, and a huge hike in his pay, to over a million dollars a year.

   The #2 Cruz donor, the Senate Conservatives Fund, had been set up by the then-Senator Jim DeMint in 2008, and it funded the far-right Republican Pat Toomey's win of a Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat from the merely conservative Republican incumbent U.S. Senator Arlen Spector, and it funded the far-right Republican Marco Rubio's win of a Florida U.S. Senate seat against the merely conservative former Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist. Then, DeMint's CFG funded Ted Cruz's replacing Republican Kay Bailey Hutchinson as a Texas U.S. Senator. DeMint was able to do all of that because he had enjoyed massive funding from the Kochs and their friends (including Toomey). As Polluter Watch headlined on 6 December 2012,  "Jim DeMint and Heritage Foundation Awash in Koch Brother Money."  However, DeMint's backing by the Kochs was actually far greater than merely the Kochs' money; the Kochs were this nation's biggest "bundlers": DeMint was backed also by the Kochs' hundreds of billionaire and centi-millionaire friends, whom the Kochs had nurtured during decades, in their joint long campaign to take over the U.S. Government and to turn American democracy into a fascist government, controlled by a mega-corporate-elite behind closed doors, supported in this effort by religious fundamentalists such as Jim DeMint himself, who was a member of  "the C-Street Family."  The Kochs' father, Fred Koch, had been a fundamentalist Christian co-founder of the John Birch Society, whose spin-off in 1981, which was/is the highly secretive fundamentalist Christian theocratic-aristocratic Council for National Policy, awarded his son Charles Koch their  "Free Enterprise Award"  in 1999. The great investigative journalist Lee Fang managed to obtain Koch's  acceptance-speech transcript , in which Charles condemned the French Revolution (which beheaded the aristocrats), and said that "the highest form of charity" is "dispensing with charity all together" and replacing it "by enabling your fellow humans to ... earn their own living." In other words: he was saying that the public depend upon the rich in order to be able to survive. He opposed not only obligatory social-welfare donations via taxes, but even voluntary "charity," and favored instead just "freedom" - unlimited greed. The underlying view had been expressed by the Scrooge character in Dickens's famous A Christmas Carol. Charles Koch heaped praise upon four major organizations that his foundations financed: Heritage Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Federalist Society, and George Mason University. He also referred to his pride at receiving "the Richard De Vos Award. Because, to me, Rich exemplifies, as much as anybody, both what I call principled entrepreneurship and dedication to the advancement of a free and civil society." However, for the general public, he has refered to it instead as the "Free Enterprise Award," which was its other name. His address ended, "I'm dedicated to living by and advancing these principles and values. In that, I echo Martin Luther."

   "Keepthemhonest" at Daily Kos headlined on 24 September 20013,  "Ted Cruz's 'Defund' Is a Fundraising Gimmick for Koch Bros Org to Rake in Millions,"  and he said that, "Ted Cruz claims that he started the 'dontfundit' website, but in reality all the donations go to Koch brothers' organizations. ... Cruz did not start that website at all, Koch brothers did." He noted: "Click on 'Donate' button and it says the money goes to: Senate Conservative Fund." And that's true; the suckers are paying directly into that Demint-controlled political slush fund, which was seed-capitalized by the Kochs; this supercharges the Kochs' billionaire-bundling operation, which pumped $300,000+ into Cruz's "election." (Only the campaign of Jeff Flake in Arizona received more from it.)

   The Koch machine has now been rather well documented, via leaks from the Kochs' periodic secret bundling-conferences. On 6 September 2011, Gavin Aronsen at Mother Jones bannered, "Exclusive: The Koch Brothers' Million-Dollar Donor Club," and he provided a partial list of the people who had donated $1,000,000 to that year's fund. Just four days earlier, Brad Friedman at his blog had headlined "TRANSCRIPT: 'Inside the Koch Brothers' 2011 Summer Seminar' - Charles Koch's Remarks," and he noted a few names that Aronson's report omitted: As credited in Charles's speech, they were: "The Ciokas," "Kelly Friedman," The Patricks," "The Traytellas," "and then ten more will remain anonymous." Those 40 individuals and couples had put in more than $40 million, to be divied up by Charles, who is really the brains behind the operation. (David is better-looking, but he's just a fascist socialite; so, he's sometimes fawned over by Democratic aristocrats, such as Kathleen Kennedy - and, of course, by others on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera, MIT, and the other non-political institutional recipients of his largesse.)

   A more extensive sourcewatch list of  "Koch Event 2010-06 Attendees"  includes a substantial crossover with the  member-list  of the Council for National Policy, which is the broader theocratic-aristocratic secret organization that also meets behind closed doors collectively to evaluate Republican Presidential candidates, and to choose which ones will be propagandized to the faithful masses on Sunday mornings. This Koch Event list had 165 individual or couple-guests, including many billionaires and many media personalities such as Glenn Beck; some people who were both, such as Philip Anschutz, the oil billionaire who also owns newspaper chains; and I chose one person whom I hadn't heard of, to look up on the internet: Bill Walton. He was identified there as "Real Estate, Allied Capital." He's not much on the web, but there is an excerpt from a speech by him; it's at David Einhorn's  site  for Einhorn's book condemning fund managers whose crookedness he describes there. Walton was the CEO of one of these funds, and Einhorn's headline there is "CEO Bill Walton Espousing Zero Tolerance for Corporate Improprieties," the presumption being that Einhorn was intending to parade Walton as the very the epitome of hypocrisy. Perhaps this was more than a squabble between aristocrats.

   In the Middle Ages, France had "The Three Estates": Aristocrats, Clerics, and Commoners. Just prior to the French Revolution, "The Four Estates" of the Realm became the Aristocracy, the Clerics, the Middle Class, and the Peasants. After the Revolution, the Press came to be called "The Fourth Estate," because peasants were simply ignored (or else re-blended into "Commoners" along with the merchants), and the Aristocrats (whomever of them still survived, or else rose up anew) bought printing presses and started the propaganda-busineses, which certainly were important determinants of the government, and so had to be granted their own "Estate," "The Fourth Estate." Kochville ("the libertarian movement") is merely the latest embodiment of that type of class-driven polity, but it cloaks itself in "the free market," as if the freedom that they seek is really for any social class or "Estate" other than their own: the aristocracy, whom they think of as simply "the job-creators," while holding workers in (and treating them with) contempt, as being merely replaceable, if not expendable. Economic hierarchy is their only morality, because they're at the top of it. 


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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that (more...)
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