The Kochtopus Explained

From KochCash.org The Kochtopus: The Influence of Koch-Cash

Thanks to the folks at IFG.org, we can finally see how far the Koch Brothers tentacles have penetrated the inner workings of our country.

From an interview with Democracy Now, originally posted at Crooks and Liars:

The author of a new report on U.S. carbon billionaires give a tour of the Kochtopus — a map of the empire of Charles and David Koch. The Kochs run oil refineries and control thousands of miles of pipeline, giving them a massive personal stake in the fossil fuel industry. Democracy Now! is joined by Victor Menotti, executive director of the International Forum on Globalization.

Read the new report at KochCash.org

Full transcript after the jump.

VICTOR MENOTTI: Well, you go to kochcash.org, and you click right here on The Kochtopus, what you get is this. And this is a mapping that we’ve done of how they move their money, the structure of their influence network, and it’s an unprecedented scale.

So, first of all, Charles and David Koch, we have to update this, because it’s not $76.4, it’s now $80.2 billion. They’re a single financial-political entity, more than the world’s wealthiest man, Carlos Slim. So, more cash than anybody on the planet. Their money comes from oil, gas, refining. Their father, Fred, invented cracking, which is what turns crude oil into gasoline. So, all of the technologies—

AMY GOODMAN: That’s—you said “cracking” of “fracking”?

VICTOR MENOTTI: Not fracking; cracking. Cracking. His father doubled the net energy that came out of cracking, so the whole family fortune is based on fossil fuels. But few people know that they do seven essential services in fracking also. Georgia-Pacific makes the little chemicals that prop open the microfissures and let the methane escape and pollute the water.

AMY GOODMAN: And they own Georgia-Pacific.

VICTOR MENOTTI: They own Georgia-Pacific. Tar sands, as I said, 25 percent of existing tar sands imports, they process. Chemical, ranching, fertilizer. Their biggest money, though, Amy, comes from commodity speculation and oil derivatives. They quintupled their wealth in the—quintupled their wealth in the past six years through the commodity trading, because there’s no ban on trading commodities, and they can control enough of the flow of energy and then bet on it—or not bet on it; they’ve got the rules rigged, and they cash in on it.

So, here are some of the clowns that then decide where that money is going to move, out to these different areas, which are really about controlling policy. First are the media manipulators. You know some of these faces. They invite them to their secret strategy meetings, so they’re really in on the conversation and the ideology to explain for the—the big picture to the—

AMY GOODMAN: And who are they?

VICTOR MENOTTI: Some of these folks are Rush Limbaugh; Michelle Malkin; Steve Moore, a Wall Street Journal writer; and Glenn Beck, who I’m sure you know about.

Next are the think tanks. For over 30 years, they’ve been funding some of these. The Cato Institute was originally called the Koch Institute. The Heartland Institute, big climate deniers.

Then the astroturf agents. These are the fake grassroots groups that they give money to to project an appearance of popular support. Americans for Prosperity, probably the most significant one, they kind of are the farm team for the tea party, that you can go google “billionaire tea party” and see David Koch getting a report from the field of AFP, bragging about how many members they turned out, state by state, for the tea party caucus.

And then you’ve got what we call the “wealth warriors.” This is their legions of lobbyists, their armies of accountants, their tax attorneys, whose job is to keep the money out of government coffers and into the Kochs’ hands. So, that’s KochPAC. It’s ALEC. It’s the Chamber of Commerce.

AMY GOODMAN: ALEC.

VICTOR MENOTTI: ALEC. But here you see that ALEC is just a single sucker on one tentacle of the larger Kochtopus.

AMY GOODMAN: But ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council.

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right. That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: That puts together government officials with corporate executives, and many of the corporate executives are involved in writing legislation that’s handed to said legislators and others.

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right, everything from the Stand Your Ground laws that killed Trayvon Martin to all the important climate legislation—or, sorry, their rolling back important climate legislation at the state level, which is really the main thing that’s been happening in the U.S. in light of no global action here at the U.N.

So, this is just from dirtyenergymoney.com. You could type in the name of whatever contributor oil company you want, and what you’ll get is all the different members of Congress who get money from the Kochs. They’re the single-largest contributor from the gas and oil sector.

And then, of course, some of their chief ideologues. Paul Ryan now risen to party leader after the recent elections, so let’s not think the Kochs didn’t get much out of their big spend in 2012.

AMY GOODMAN: Why Paul Ryan, do you select, in particular, do you point out?

VICTOR MENOTTI: Well, he had—

AMY GOODMAN: The congressman from Wisconsin who was Mitt Romney’s running mate for president.

VICTOR MENOTTI: Because he believes in the Koch agenda of what’s called economic freedom. He’s probably the chief ideologue of that ideology, Ayn Rand’s get government out of the way, government’s the problem, and just freedom for capital to invest as it wants.

AMY GOODMAN: And you include Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

VICTOR MENOTTI: Scott Walker. There are a lot of more faces up here we could have added, but Scott Walker was sort of a testing ground for passing collective bargaining laws and—

AMY GOODMAN: That eviscerate collective bargaining.

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right. So that’s sort of our elected officials part of the government.

Then there’s the courtroom collaborators. Those are the like-minded judges that eventually get appointed. Kochs, for years, have been funding judicial education conferences through this organization FREE. It’s giving to some of the more radical Supreme Court justices and led to—

AMY GOODMAN: FREE is the Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment?

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right. That’s right. It’s judicial trainings to think like the Kochs, basically. And that’s what’s led to the Citizens United decision, is that sort of—

AMY GOODMAN: You have a picture right there of two Supreme Court justices in your Kochtopus, as you call it.

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right, Scalia and Thomas, who actually—

AMY GOODMAN: Why?

VICTOR MENOTTI: Well, they’re known to hang out with the Kochs. They go to their summits. They go to their strategy sessions—Aspen, Palm Springs, wherever it might be. There’s a very comfortable relationship that we think is entirely inappropriate.

And then you get to your academic agents. So, they’re starting to fund universities with contracts, where they bring in their ideologues, their curriculum, and that becomes the—even at public universities. This is just a short video clip that you can see interviews with some of the people at those universities who are opposing it.

And then, of course, there’s the physical force. They’ve got control of the legal system. All of this they do is legal. But when that breaks down, they need the blue meanies out there with their billy clubs, so—and their presence is increasing as the protests against the Kochs—

AMY GOODMAN: You’re saying police contracted to—show us that part of—

VICTOR MENOTTI: Both private contract, but also when they show up, they get municipal police forces.

AMY GOODMAN: To guard secretive Koch meeting—

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: —at Rancho Mirage, California.

VICTOR MENOTTI: That was the one last year. They may do it again this January. We’re hoping they do.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the scientists, when you talk about the climate deniers? I want to go to Richard Muller, who was funded by the Koch brothers, though now is saying that climate change is a very real issue.

RICHARD MULLER: We were able to show that the poor station quality, although it affected the temperature measurements, didn’t affect the temperature changes. We were able to use 100 percent of the data, not the 20 percent that others had used. We found that data selection bias didn’t affect things. We looked at the urban heat island. It came together. We concluded that global warming was indeed real. …

And I’ve got to admit, I was shocked when I saw the results. There was short-time—short-term variability that was due to volcanoes, essentially nothing due to the solar variation. Theoretically, that’s not too surprising, but I was surprised nonetheless. But the remaining curve, the rise in that curve, was dead on to human production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. At that point, the data had led me to a conclusion I would not have expected a few years earlier.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s scientist Richard Muller. Victor Menotti?

VICTOR MENOTTI: Well, he’s been one of the chief climate denialists, that the Kochs have funded his research over the years. And this summer, as the droughts were hitting the Midwest, his report—he, I think, was on your show and talked about, conclusively, it’s human-caused carbon emissions that are warming the planet. So, we think this kind of puts the Kochs in new legal territory now, because they’ve been informed about the impacts and causality of the products that they are producing, kind of like big tobacco. So it kind of gets into the willful ignorance territory, which could cause greater liability for them down the road.

But the question here is: What do we do about this? So what IFG is doing is we’ve been contacting all these different groups on the ground that are fighting the Kochs from different parts, whether it’s the NAACP fighting voter rights rollback in 30 different states or the United Steelworkers defending collective bargaining in Wisconsin and other states throughout the country. And we’re—first thing is to get everybody together and recognize that who we’re all fighting is the same person, because we haven’t seen a situation like this before in the U.S. You know, we first met around Seattle—I don’t know if you remember—but that was about the WTO. It’s not just about corporations or the institutions now. Globalization has concentrated wealth and power to such extremes, we have the emergence of oligarchic powers. And that’s really what this Kochtopus is all about.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Victor Menotti, I want to thank you very much for being with us, author of “Faces Behind a Global Crisis: US Carbon Billionaires and the UN Climate Deadlock” and the force behind kochcash.org, a picture of what he calls the “Kochtopus: The Influence of Koch-Cash.”

“Won’t Back Down” Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal | PR Watch

Follow the money…

Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation’s education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film “Won’t Back Down” — set for release September 28 — portrays so-called “Parent Trigger” laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film’s distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting Parent Trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system.

more at  “Won’t Back Down” Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal | PR Watch.

Corporatism and Fraud are Why Were Screwed: | Credit Writedowns

Via Credit Writedowns…

As the Global Financial Crisis rumbles along in its fifth year, we read the latest revelations of bankster fraud, the LIBOR scandal. This follows the muni bond fixing scam detailed a couple of weeks ago, as well as the JPMorgan Chase trading fiasco and the Corzine – MF Global collapse and any number of other scandals in recent months. In every case it was traders run amuck, fixing “markets” to make an easy buck at someone’s expense. In times like these, I always recall Robert Sherrill’s 1990 statement about the S&L crisis that “thievery is what unregulated capitalism is all about.”After 1990 we removed what was left of financial regulations following the flurry of deregulation of the early 1980s that had freed the thrifts so that they could self-destruct. And we are shocked, SHOCKED!, that thieves took over the financial system.Nay, they took over the whole economy and the political system lock, stock, and barrel. They didn’t just blow up finance, they oversaw the swiftest transfer of wealth to the very top the world has ever seen. They screwed workers out of their jobs, they screwed homeowners out of their houses, they screwed retirees out of their pensions, and they screwed municipalities out of their revenues and assets.Financiers are forcing schools, parks, pools, fire departments, senior citizen centers, and libraries to shut down. They are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in fire sales pun intended at prices rigged by twenty-something traders at the biggest and most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.And since they’ve bought the politicians, the policy-makers, and the courts, no one will stop it. Few will even discuss it, since most university administrations have similarly been bought off—in many cases, the universities are even headed by corporate “leaders”–and their professors are on Wall Street’s payrolls.We’re screwed.

More at Corporatism and Fraud are Why Were Screwed: | Credit Writedowns.

Flashback: In ’02 Romney Touted D.C. Connections, Federal Funds – ABC News

How will Romney campaign try to spin his way out of this?

In a long-forgotten tape from the 2002 Massachusetts governor’s race obtained by ABC News, Mitt Romney is seen touting his Washington connections and his ability to get millions of taxpayer dollars from the federal government.

“I am big believer in getting money where the money is,” Romney says on the video, “The money is in Washington.”

The video, which was surreptitiously shot by Democratic opponents of Romney on Oct. 16, 2002, shows him addressing a group called the New Bedford Industrial Foundation. The Power Point presentation he uses lists ways to improve economic development in Massachusetts, including “boost federal involvement.”

“I want to go after every grant, every project, every department in Washington to assure that we are taking advantage of economic development opportunities,” Romney tells the group.

More at EXCLUSIVE: In ’02 Romney Touted D.C. Connections, Federal Funds – ABC News.

Groups Shield Political Gifts of Businesses – NYTimes.com

“Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” ~Benito Mussolini

Two years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the door for corporate spending on elections, relatively little money has flowed from company treasuries into “super PACs,” which can accept unlimited contributions but must also disclose donors. Instead, there is growing evidence that large corporations are trying to influence campaigns by donating money to tax-exempt organizations that can spend millions of dollars without being subject to the disclosure requirements that apply to candidates, parties and PACs.

more at Groups Shield Political Gifts of Businesses – NYTimes.com.

Why Senator Mitch McConnell Is So Nervous – NYTimes.com

Shorter Mitch McConnell: Right-wing billionaires should be able to buy off your government in complete secrecy, without it hurting their company’s image…What??

America’s corporations and their executives are in grave danger, warns Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader. According to Mr. McConnell, if President Obama were to find out who was giving hundreds of millions to secretive groups running political attack ads, he would “punish and intimidate” them with all the governmental tools at his disposal.

This is not one of those laughable Internet conspiracy theories. The senator actually wrote this in an op-ed essay in USA Today on Thursday as his explanation of why the Disclose Act, which would end the practice of secret political donations, is “un-American” and an attempt to limit free speech.

The vast majority of the secret money going into “social welfare” organizations like Crossroads GPS, founded by Karl Rove, is being spent on behalf of Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates, and the Disclose Act is coming up for another vote in a few weeks. So Mr. McConnell needs a new excuse for filibustering it again. But his suggestion that President Obama and Democrats want disclosure in order to compile a list of “enemies” is repugnant.

Corporations love the secrecy provided by Mr. Rove’s group because it protects them from scrutiny by nosy shareholders and consumers. They want a big influence on elections, but without leaving any tracks. People who give directly to political campaigns or super PACs know their donations will be public, and know that disclosure is part of participation.

more at Why Senator Mitch McConnell Is So Nervous – NYTimes.com.

Why America — Where Only The Rich Get Richer — Is Not A Democracy

Bill Moyers has seen the rich getting richer since the 1950s, and he’s sick and tired of it.

Bill Moyers gives his take on what has happened to our democracy, using the now famous leaked Citigroup document entitled “Revisiting Plutonomy”. These are the words that so disturbed Moyers:

“Asset booms, a rising profit share and favorable treatment by market-friendly governments have allowed the rich to prosper… [and] take an increasing share of income and wealth over the last 20 years.”

“…the top 10%, particularly the top 1% of the United States – the plutonomists in our parlance – have benefited disproportionately from the recent productivity surged in the US… [and] from globalization and the productivity boom, at the relative expense of labor.”

“… [and they] are likely to get even wealthier in the coming years. Because the dynamics of plutonomy are still intact.”

Disturbing indeed.  See Bill Moyers comments at:

Why America — Where Only The Rich Get Richer — Is Not A Democracy.

RNC Sues To Allow Unlimited Anonymous Donations | Addicting Info

Winner goes to the highest bidder – Republicans going for “free market government”…

The one remaining stronghold of campaign reform, in light of the Citizens United decision, has been that direct contributions to candidates remains restricted, that corporations could spend freely in elections but not directly contribute to political parties. In a lawsuit filed last week, as reported by the Washington Post, the Republican National Committee is attempting to overcome even this restriction, allowing the parties themselves to accept unlimited, unaccountable and anonymous donations.

more at RNC Sues To Allow Unlimited Anonymous Donations | Addicting Info.

Crossroads GPS – Karl Rove Front Group – Secret Donations – Anonymous Funders | Buying Our Future

Some of Karl Rove’s handy work…

Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS) is a front group founded by Karl Rove and an affiliate of his Super PAC, American Crossroads.  Don’t be fooled – Crossroads GPS is anything but “grassroots”.  Although it is officially a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group, which is tax-exempt and must spend 50% of its resourses on promoting social welfare, the only welfare Crossroads GPS promotes is corporate welfare.

Crossroads GPS is the number one choice of billionaires who want to give secret donations to fund corporate puppet politicians.  Overall, they raised more than $76 million since they founded the non-profit in May 2010 through the end of 2011, with almost 90% of it coming from as few as two dozen donors.  Because of Crossroads GPS non-profit status, they do not have to disclose their donors.  This is where the anonymous big money donor goes to buy American politicians.

more at Crossroads GPS – Karl Rove Front Group – Secret Donations – Anonymous Funders | Buying Our Future.

EXPOSED: 19 Corporations Funding Heartland Institute | ThinkProgress

Many corporations have a vested interest in making sure environmental regulations stay weak and to influence legislation, will spend big money..

Internal documents acquired by ThinkProgress Green reveal that the climate-denial think tank Heartland Institute received funding from at least 19 publicly traded corporations in 2010 and 2011. The companies’ combined contributions exceeded $1.3 million for an array of projects. As Think Progress Green reported on Tuesday, the Heartland Institute’s projects included a secret plan to teach children that climate change is a hoax.

via EXPOSED: 19 Corporations Funding Heartland Institute | ThinkProgress.