I’ve been following Robert Greenwald and his Brave New Foundation for quite a while, so when I got the email about the Boston premiere of “Koch Brothers Exposed,” I signed up right away to see it at Harvard University. I’ve known for a long time that the Koch Brothers are evil, but I have to say that I had no idea of the extent of their evil until I saw this film. It’s one thing to read isolated news items day after day, but to see their evil all put together was all at once both breathtaking and infuriating.
Briefly, the Koch Brothers are listed 4th in the Forbes 400. Their net worth outranks the GDP of 48 of the world’s nations. They use their considerable wealth to fund right-wing ideologies, but they are not newcomers to the right wing. They inherited their wealth and business from their father, Fred, who made his fortune in the oil of the Soviet Union, having been invited there by Stalin himself. Fred was also one of the founders of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society. Much has been made of the Koch Brothers’ agenda, but I’m not sure that most people realize the extent of their intentions. In a nutshell:
- Repealing health care reform
- Denying climate change
- Fighting reductions in carbon emissions
- Preventing Wall Street reform
- Dismantling collective bargaining rights
- Keeping corporate money in elections
- Fighting Internet neutrality
- Eliminating what they call ‘entitlements,’ particularly Social Security
Take a look around. The poison of the Koch Brothers is everywhere. The Supreme Court is now considering the constitutionality of ObamaCare, an issue that the highest court in the land should not even be involved in. Climate change deniers, who have been funded by the Koch Brothers, have literally changed public opinion. In the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown, Wall Street reform is virtually non-existent. The Koch Brothers funded Scott Walker, who has decimated collective bargaining in Wisconsin. The Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United ruling in 2010, which makes it legal for corporations to buy elections. To completely understand how pervasive the Koch Brothers’ reach is, read the research document produced by the Center for American Progress Action Fund here on my Scribd site.
But you’d be vastly mistaken if you thought their agenda ended there. What the Koch Brothers would like to see is no government. Much is made of their ‘Libertarian view’ and, indeed, David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket in 1980 (Ed Clark was the presidential candidate). During that campaign, the ticket vowed to abolish Social Security, the Federal Reserve Board, welfare, minimum-wage laws, corporate taxes, and U.S. Federal Agencies, including the Department of Education (DOE), the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is not surprising. With businesses in oil and gas, refining and chemicals, minerals and fertilizers, forestry, consumer products, polymers and fibers, and ranching, government oversight is – to put it bluntly – a pain in their collective asses. Considering that Koch Industries is one of the top 10 polluters in America, the EPA is a favorite target.
Like a stunning invasive and pervasive infection
That’s the only way I can describe the Koch Brothers’ influence over American politics on both a local and federal level. Campaign donations are only the tip of the iceberg. According to a recent article in AlterNet, the Koch machine put Mitt Romney over the top in the Wisconsin GOP primary. Of Romney’s top endorsers there, four are key components of the Wisconsin Koch Cabal, including the Koch-founded Americans For Prosperity. In 2010, the unthinkable happened in Massachusetts when Tea Party candidate Scott Brown took Ted Kennedy’s seat, courtesy of the Koch Brothers, and their support of Brown continues. In the tight Massachusetts senate race, Scott Brown is seen in a video asking for support for his 2012 re-election effort:
Meanwhile, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, runs her campaign on grassroots donations as she tries to unseat Brown in November. To her credit, she is outpacing Brown’s fundraising in Massachusetts, and she will need that as the race progresses and he continues to rake in the money from Wall Street and Koch Industries.
There were other stunning examples of the Koch Brothers’ evil reach in the video, and I found two that were really particularly gut-wrenching. One story focused on the Wake County School District in North Carolina, a totally integrated district where minority and white students not only peacefully co-exist, but excel. The Koch Brothers set out to destroy that district, utilizing Americans For Prosperity to attack the diversity program. AFP literally moved to re-segregate the students by using code words such as ‘neighborhood schools’ and ‘forced busing.’ They also funded two candidates for the school board who won, and set in motion their plan to re-segregate. It was, in short, infuriating. The students were totally against the change and were not even given a voice. The positive in all of this was that the people fought back, throwing the two Koch-funded candidates out in the next election, and the district returned to normal. The point is that the Koch Brothers are intent on ending public education. They were rebuffed here, but they will try somewhere else again, and they will keep at it. See the video below.
Another vignette, if you will, focused on a small community in Arkansas where cancer runs rampant, largely because of the Koch-owned Georgia Pacific plant that simply dumps waste pollutants into the water. Because it is such a small community and so isolated, the dumping is rampant, unnoticed and unregulated. As one of the top 10 polluters in the United States, that’s just the way Koch Industries wants it. The plight of the people has largely been ignored. See the video below.
Dismantling the K-12 public education system is one goal, controlling higher education and what college students are taught is another. The Koch Brothers have signed ‘contracts’ in exchange for donations with over 150 colleges and universities. In exchange for these donations, the universities agree to hire professors who share the Koch Brothers’ right-wing ideologies.
I recommend that you go to the Koch Brothers Exposed web site. Get yourself a copy of the DVD for the modest donation of $20, and show it to as many people as you can. The makers of the film are suggesting a house party. There’s so much more to learn, like how they fund The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and are behind the voter suppression efforts to marginalize the elderly, the disabled, young people and minorities. What the filmmakers are hoping is that what is revealed will spur us to action. After what I’ve seen, the action had better happen sooner rather than later because there is no end to their evil.