Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rethuglican hypocrite of the year, Gov. Haley Barbour, Mississippi

Alternate headline: Fuck you, you fucking fuck.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, recently broiled in controversy after praising a white supremacist organization, now faces another scandal. Politico reports that Barbour, a rumored presidential candidate, has used the state plane of Mississippi for personal trips, racking up a huge bill that has been dumped on the tax payers of Mississippi — the poorest state in the union. A Politico analysis found:

Much of the time, he has used the plane to go to fundraisers for himself and other Republican candidates and committees, to football games and to at least one boxing match — travel that has a less obvious connection to what Barbour, a former top lobbyist in Washington, has cast as his lobbying on behalf of his state. … The flight logs obtained by POLITICO indicate that Mississippi has spent more than $500,000 over the past three years on Barbour’s air travel. That total does not include security and other logistical costs associated with his trips. [...]

Barbour has reimbursed the state for a handful of flights, but he has more often scheduled obscure official business to coincide with the business of politics, according to the manifest and logs.

Prior to becoming Governor of Mississippi, Barbour was a lobbyist in Washington D.C.and no doubt got used to the lavish lifestyle. He even brush[ed] off suggestions from Mississippi Democrats that he give up” his Citation jet “in favor of a more modest propeller plane for his travel.” But the massive bill he has racked up by using the state’s plane as his own personal private jet also stand in direct opposition to his public persona.

During his many appearances on national television, Barbour has positioned himself as a deficit hawk. He attacked the stimulus bill and has insisted that the president’s proposed tax cuts for lower and middle class families be paid for. Yet Barbour in reality is a deficit fraud. As the Wonk Room’s Pat Garafolo has pointed out, after attacking the stimulus and claiming Mississippi would refuse the money, Barbour took advantage of stimulus funded bonds. While he has insisted that tax cuts for the lower and middle class be paid for, Barbour has given tax cuts for the rich a pass.

By Max Bergmann | Sourced from Think Progress

Monday, December 27, 2010

What a wonderful empire!

A new investigation by the Boston Globe finds that retiring generals are leaving the military in large numbers to take lucrative jobs in the defense industry with little concern for any conflicts of interest. According to Democracy Now, "the Globe analyzed the career paths of 750 of the highest-ranking generals and admirals who retired during the last two decades. The results are staggering. From 2004 through 2008, 80 percent of retiring three- and four-star officers went to work as consultants or defense executives. That compares with less than half who followed that path a decade earlier.

"The Globe analysis found that in many cases the generals are recruited for private-sector roles well before they retire, raising questions about their independence and judgment while still in uniform. What’s more, the Pentagon is aware and even supports this practice."

The Globe article can be found here.

The interview with Bryan Bender, national security reporter for the Boston Globe, can be found here, watched below, or downloaded as an mp3 here.

This prodigiously enlarged turnstile, a growth industry in itself, of course insures that the military industrial complexwill continue unabated, helping to bankrupt the nation, enrich oligarchic defense contractors, and continue the torrent of blowback that the late Chalmers Johnson predicted would come to pass.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Top 5 Problems with the Tax Deal

Problem #1: The deal is a stealth attack on Social Security.

The deal will lower the payroll tax—the tax that funds the Social Security trust. This is a trap for Democrats. Republicans have been coming after Social Security for years and this cut is the biggest threat to the vital program in decades. It will cut one-third of Social Security's funding this year alone and when we need to restore the payroll tax back to its current level, Republicans will cry "tax increases" and could gut it permanently. 1

Problem #2: For nearly one in three workers, it's a tax increase.

Nearly 50 million working Americans—including all workers making less than $20,000 per year—and millions of federal, state, and municipal workers will see their taxes go up because of the deal.2

Problem #3: The deal has not one but TWO millionaire bailouts.

In addition to extending all the Bush income tax breaks for the top 2%, the deal will slash the estate tax. If Congress did nothing, next year the estate tax would be 55% and apply to everyone inheriting $1 million or more. But the deal reduces it to 35% and only people who inherit more than $5 million will have to pay. This second bailout will give a gigantic tax giveaway to a few thousand of the richest families in the country and add hundreds of billions to the national debt.3

Problem #4: Unemployment help is insufficient and inadequate.

While the deal extends unemployment benefits for another 13 months for people currently receiving it, millions of unemployed workers who've struggled the most and been out of work more than 99 weeks—since the giant Wall Street banks wrecked the economy—will get no help at all under the deal.4 It's a gamble that there will be jobs in the next 13 months when the insurance runs out, but the tax cuts will go well beyond that. Better to just pass a stand-alone unemployment extension to help all struggling Americans.

Problem #5: Tax giveaways to the rich are a terrible way to create jobs.

Tax breaks for the rich are the least efficient way to create jobs and help the economy grow. In fact the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says extending all tax cuts would lower unemployment only 0.1% to 0.3% over the next year5 and that the cost of the tax deal would be $900 billion over the next five years.6

Sources:

1."Tax Cut Deal A Hidden Threat To Social Security," The Huffington Post, December 8, 2010
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=205508&id=25500-630415-3avf8fx&t=6

2. "Obama-Republican Deal Could Mean Tax Hike For One In Three Workers," The Huffington Post, December 10, 2010
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=205509&id=25500-630415-3avf8fx&t=7

3. "Estate tax deal: worst part of a bad tax compromise," The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2010
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=205510&id=25500-630415-3avf8fx&t=8

4. "Unemployment benefits: Extension won't help '99ers'," The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2010
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=205511&id=25500-630415-3avf8fx&t=9

5. "The Deal," Paul Krugman, The New York Times, December 7, 2010
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/the-deal/

6. "CBO score shows tax plan ups deficit $900 billion in 5 years," CNN.com, December 10, 2010
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=205512&id=25500-630415-3avf8fx&t=10

A tip of the Mirsky hat to Moveon.org

What's wrong with this picture?


According to the NY Times:
"American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms."

Meanwhile, joblessness grows, the middle class shrinks, wars without end roll on with their true cost shielded from a public who probably wouldn't notice even if they weren't, the police state apparatus grows ever more ominous, and our government, held hostage by a deluded minority of self-style patriots, continue to midwife the institutionalization of the corporate welfare state ("socialize the risk, privatize the profits").

Welcome to the oligarch republic.

Bernie Sanders for President

In case you missed it (I mean, "Dancing With the Stars" might have been on), here is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) truth to power speech on the floor of the corporate-controlled Senate.

Friday, December 10, 2010

An Open Letter to the Left Establishment


I copy this letter as it was received, and urge you to sign onto it yourself. *****************************************************

This letter is a call for active support of protest to Michael Moore, Norman Solomon, Katrina van den Heuvel, Michael Eric Dyson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Thomas Frank, Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher Jr., Jesse Jackson Jr., and other high profile progressive supporters of the Obama electoral campaign.

With the Obama administration beginning its third year, it is by now painfully obvious that the predictions of even the most sober Obama supporters were overly optimistic. Rather than an ally, the administration has shown itself to be an implacable enemy of reform.

It has advanced repeated assaults on the New Deal safety net (including the previously sacrosanct Social Security trust fund), jettisoned any hope for substantive health care reform, attacked civil rights and environmental protections, and expanded a massive bailout further enriching an already bloated financial services and insurance industry. It has continued the occupation of Iraq and expanded the war in Afghanistan as well as our government’s covert and overt wars in South Asia and around the globe.

Along the way, the Obama administration, which referred to its left detractors as “f***ing retarded” individuals that required “drug testing,” stepped up the prosecution of federal war crime whistleblowers, and unleashed the FBI on those protesting the escalation of an insane war.

Obama’s recent announcement of a federal worker pay freeze is cynical, mean-spirited “deficit-reduction theater”. Slashing Bush’s plutocratic tax cuts would have made a much more significant contribution to deficit reduction but all signs are that the “progressive” president will cave to Republican demands for the preservation of George W. Bush’s tax breaks for the wealthy Few. Instead Obama’s tax cut plan would raise taxes for the poorest people in our country.

The election of Obama has not galvanized protest movements. To the contrary, it has depressed and undermined them, with the White House playing an active role in the discouragement and suppression of dissent – with disastrous consequences. The almost complete absence of protest from the left has emboldened the most right-wing elements inside and outside of the Obama administration to pursue and act on an ever more extreme agenda.

We are writing to you because you are well-known writers, bloggers and filmmakers with access to a range of old and new media, and you have in your power the capacity to help reignite the movement which brought millions onto the streets in February of 2003 but which has withered ever since. There are many thousands of progressives who follow your work closely and are waiting for a cue from you and others to act. We are asking you to commit yourself to actively supporting the protests of Obama administration policies which are now beginning to materialize.

In this connection we would like to mention a specific protest: the civil disobedience action being planned by Veterans for Peace involving Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Joel Kovel, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern, several armed service veterans and others to take place in front of the White House on Dec. 16th.

Should you commit yourselves to backing this action and others sure to materialize in weeks and months ahead, what would otherwise be regarded as an emotional outburst of the “fringe left” will have a better chance of being seen as expressing the will of a substantial majority not only of the left, but of the American public at large. We believe that your support will help create the climate for larger and increasingly disruptive expressions of dissent – a development that is sorely needed and long overdue.

We hope that we can count on you to exercise the leadership that is required of all of us in these desperate times.

Best Regards,

Sen. James Abourezk
Michael Albert
Rocky Anderson
Jared Ball
Russel Banks
Thomas Bias
Noam Chomsky
Bruce Dixon
Frank Dorrel
Gidon Eshel
Jamilla El-Shafei
Okla Elliott
Norman Finkelstein
Glen Ford
Joshua Frank
Margaret Flowers M.D.
John Gerassi
Henry Giroux
Matt Gonzalez
Kevin Alexander Gray
Judd Greenstein
DeeDee Halleck
John Halle
Chris Hedges
Doug Henwood
Edward S. Herman
Dahr Jamail
Louis Kampf
Allison Kilkenny
Jamie Kilstein
Joel Kovel
Mark Kurlansky
Peter Linebaugh
Scott McLarty
Cynthia McKinney
Dede Miller
Russell Mokhiber
Bobby Muller
Christian Parenti
Michael Perelman
Peter Phillips
Louis Proyect
Ted Rall
Michael Ratner
Cindy Sheehan
Chris Spannos
Paul Street
Sunil Sharma
Jeffrey St. Clair
Len Weinglass
Cornel West
Sherry Wolf
Michael Yates
Mickey Z
Kevin Zeese

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The best friends that money can buy

Oligarchy? Corporatocracy? Or soon to be banana republic? What do you call the sad specter of the US of A as the first decade of the 21st century limps to an end. As we slip lower and lower in the ranks of global "best" lists, whether it be quality of life, or educational quality (while leading the pack for delusional thinking), I can't help but reflect on the words of the late Howard Zinn:

"The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history. With a country so rich in natural resources, talent and labor power the system ca
n afford to distribute just enough wealth to just enough people to limit discontent to a troublesome minority. It is a country so powerful, so big, so pleasing to so many of its' citizens that it can afford to give freedom of dissent to the small number who are not pleased. There is no system of control with more openings, apertures, flexibilities, rewards for the chosen. There is none that disperses its control more complexly through the voting system, the work situation, the church, the family, the school, the mass media - none more successful in mollifying opposition with reforms, isolating people from one another, creating patriotic loyalty."-- from 'A People's History of the United States, first published 1981.

This Saturday, the local Tea Party zealots were waving the flag at a corner in my neck of the woods. I recognized one of them from a picture in our local newspaper, which seems to find this minority group always newsworthy (to the exclusion of real news), along with their doyenne, Ms. Palin. A burly, 50-something guy with a big handlebar mustache and paunch, his sign said "Honk If You Love Freedom." Someone else's said "End Tyranny." Sadly, their view of tyranny is cutting off their nose to spite their face. Ask any one of them who George Soros is, and I am sure you will find at least 50% ready to recite the vaguely anti-semitic rhetoric of Glenn Beck regarding that sinister "Hungarian Jew" who is the "puppet master" behind that Muslim, foreign-born socialist Barack Obama. But ask them who David and Charles Koch are, and I am willing to wager a significant number of draft Yuenglings that you'd get a blank look from this crowd.

I don't have a large reservoir of optimism for the future of our nation. While I believe in my heart that a small majority of Americans actually support progressive values, far too many of them prefer not to fight for them, while the minority who gladly offer themselves up as tools of the corporate right are not only willing to draw blood, but are also well-armed. Had Barack Obama been the leader many of us hoped he would be (and I do not diminish some of the advances that his administration has made), might the so-called "enthusiasm gap" never have become a mainstream media chorus line?

And then there is that one component of our peril that no one on either side of the aisle wants to speak about, at least outside of a few voices like Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders: namely, the sheer magnitude of our military presence around the world (nearly 800 bases), our waging of two irrational war fronts in a sector of the world where the enemy has no problem about blowing themselves up for their cause (two wars, I might add, whose true cost is kept outside the Federal budget arithmetic), and the unspeakably bloated defense budget we support with our tax dollars. To this we might add, that in an economy woefully short of manufacturing, the one sector we still do quite well is, of course, weapons.


And now even our Supreme Court, no small thanks to George W. Bush, as classical a son of the patriarchal class as any, even the highest court of the land is now held in the majority by the forces of American aristocracy. By upholding and extending an earlier interpretative fallacy that granted corporations the rights of citizens, the justices have paved the way for the further erosion of our democracy.

We have been warned through history by men and women by-and large smarter than most of us of the perils of power and money conjoined against the forces of democracy. A few examples:


"I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country." ~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan. November 12, 1816

“America cannot have an empire abroad and a Republic at home.” ~Mark Twain

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. ~Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both." ~ Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941)

"The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the U.S. since the days of Andrew Jackson." ~ Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt

“The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.” ~ Edward Dowling (1941)

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." ~ Sinclair Lewis (1935)

"The convention which framed the Constitution of the United States was composed of fifty-five members. A majority were lawyers-not one farmer, mechanic or laborer. Forty owned Revolutionary Scrip. Fourteen were land speculators. Twenty-four were money-lenders. Eleven were merchants. Fifteen were slave-holders. They made a Constitution to protect the rights of property and not the rights of man." ~ Senator Richard Pettigrew, Triumphant Plutocracy (1922)

"A Society that is in its higher circles and middle levels widely believed to be a network of smart rackets does not produce men with an inner moral sense; a society that is merely expedient does not produce men of conscience. A society that narrows the meaning of "success" to the big money and in its terms condemns failure as the chief vice, raising money to the plane of absolute value, will produce the sharp operator and the shady deal. Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed." ~ C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite

"The principal power in Washington is no longer the government or the people it represents. It is the Money Power. Under the deceptive cloak of campaign contributions, access and influence, votes and amendments are bought and sold. Money established priorities of action, holds down federal revenues, revises federal legislation, shifts income from the middle class to the very rich. Money restrains the enforcement of laws written to protect the country from abuses of wealth--laws that mandate environmental protection, antitrust laws, laws to protect the consumer against fraud, laws that safeguard the securities markets, and many more." ~ Richard N. Goodwin, speechwriter for John F. Kennedy

"Big money and big business, corporations and commerce, are again the undisputed overlords of politics and government. The White House, the Congress and, increasingly, the judiciary, reflect their interests. We appear to have a government run by remote control from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute. To hell with everyone else." ~Bill Moyers, PBS Commentator

"The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy."
~ Woodrow T. Wilson, 28th President of the United States

"Wars are seldom caused by spontaneous hatreds between people, for peoples in general are too ignorant of one another to have grievances and too indifferent to what goes on beyond their borders to plan conquests. They must be urged to the slaughter by politicians who know how to alarm them." ~ H.L. Mencken

"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics." ~ Plutarch (Mestrius Plutarchus, c. 46 AD- 127 AD)

“They call it the 'American Dream' because you have to be asleep to believe it.” ~ George Carlin

There's an ill wind blowing in the land, and I don't know where it is going to lead us.

Friday, November 12, 2010

WTF?

Just in case you will be gathering around the turkey this Thanksgiving with some in-law who proudly belongs to the Tea Party and who starts channeling Glen Beck, no need to say a word. Just tie them to a chair in front of the computer and surf to the site "What The Fuck Has Obama Done So Far?" launched last week to combat the President's critics on the left and right who claim that he has been an ineffective leader. It gained popularity very quickly, and the sentiment seems to have gained momentum.

If they're particularly prudish there is a PG version.

And, if you want to be "fair and balanced" (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), switch over to this site when your in-law starts screaming.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Government interference? How many syllables, Marco?

"The past two years provided a frightening glimpse at what could become of our great nation if we continue down the current path: wasteful spending, a growing debt and a government reaching ever further into our lives, even into our health care decisions," Florida senator-elect and Tea Party fave rave Marco Rubio said.

Now, I wonder how young Mr. Rubio feels about our phone calls being recorded and our emails being read? Oh, right. That's "keeping us safe." And improving health care policy is ... er... ummm ... DEATH PANELS, yeah, that's the ticket!

The good fight

Our friends at CREDO Action urge all progressives to heed the following ten clarion calls in the wake of the Rethuglican resurgence.

1. Commit to Taking Down FOX News. So long as FOX News has any credibility within the Beltway, it will be a pipeline for malicious material that will poison our political culture. Join our friends at Color of Change: turnofffox.org/landing?credo.

2.Tell the Senate to pass the DISCLOSE Act during the lame duck session. We were able to defeat the Texas Oil Initiative, Prop 23 in California, in part because we knew who the enemy was — having disclosure of corporate contributions brings the enemy out in the open for us to take on and fight. The DISCLOSE Act passed the House and came within a single vote of passing the Senate. One vote. You can join this fight by taking action with Public Citizen at citizen.org/disclose-act-action.

3. Keep fighting to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This issue will get resolved during the lame duck session. Take action at act.credoaction.com/campaign/bushtaxcuts.

4. Sign up for the fight for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision by declaring that corporations do not have the legal rights of humans. This may take years, if not decades, but we should start now. Please join Free Speech for People: freespeechforpeople.org/.

5. Tell the FCC to use its existing authority to establish and defend net neutrality. Our friends at Free Press are leading this charge: act2.freepress.net/sign/put_up/. 6. Demand that the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service investigate the political organizations set up by Karl Rove to launder millions of dollars in secret cash to change the outcome of elections. Act now at act.credoaction.com/campaign/investigate_crossroads. 7. Defend the EPA from castration by pro-coal interests in Congress. The EPA accomplished almost nothing during the Clinton years because the Gingrich-led Congress used the budget process to prohibit the agency from doing its work. This battle has already started. The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign is a great way to join this fight: sierraclub.org/coal.

8. Convince the Obama administration to stop appealing progressive court rulings on matters like the Defense of Marriage Act, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and the state secrets defense against torture and wiretapping. Urge the Department of Justice to change its approach at act.credoaction.com/campaign/stop_appealing.

9. Urge Democratic senators to do away with lifetime tenure for committee chairs and open up all chair positions to majority vote elections. This will go a long way towards more progressive legislation. Take action with us at
act.credoaction.com/campaign/end_seniority_system.

10. Demand that the Department of Justice enforce the provisions of the national voter registration law that require state governments to offer to register all voters at departments of public welfare and motor vehicles. Many state governments simply ignore these requirements and this is a cheaper and more inclusive way of registering voters than the campaigns of the now dead ACORN. Urge Attorney General Eric Holder to expand voter registration:
credoaction.com/campaign/enforce_motor_voter.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Koch, Chamber, Glenn Beck, Big Business Leaders Meet to Plot 2010 Election

by Lee Fang

This post first appeared on Think Progress.

In 2006, Koch Industries owner Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore that he coordinates the funding of the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, media outlets and other anti-government efforts through a twice annual meeting of wealthy right-wing donors. He also confided to Moore, who is funded through several of Koch’s ventures, that his true goal is to strengthen the “culture of prosperity” by eliminating “90%” of all laws and government regulations. Although it is difficult to quantify the exact amount Koch alone has funneled to right-wing fronts, some studies have pointed toward $50 million he has given alone to anti-environmental groups. Recently, fronts funded by Charles and his brother David have received scrutiny because they have played a pivotal role in the organizing of the anti-Obama Tea Parties and the promotion of virulent far right lawmakers like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). (David Koch praised DeMint and gave him a “Washington Award” shortly after the senator promised to “break” Obama by making health reform his “Waterloo.”)

While the Koch brothers — each worth over $21.5 billion — have certainly underwritten much of the right, their hidden coordination with other big business money has gone largely unnoticed. ThinkProgress has obtained a memo outlining the details of the last Koch gathering held in June of this year. The memo, along with an attendee list of about 210 people, shows the titans of industry — from health insurance companies, oil executives, Wall Street investors, and real estate tycoons — working together with conservative journalists and Republican operatives to plan the 2010 election, as well as ongoing conservative efforts through 2012. According to the memo, David Chavern, the number two at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fox News hate-talker Glenn Beck also met with these representatives of the corporate elite. In an election season with the most undisclosed secret corporate giving since the Watergate-era, the memo sheds light on the symbiotic relationship between extremely profitable, multi-billion dollar corporations and much of the conservative infrastructure. The memo describes the prospective corporate donors as “investors,” and it makes clear that many of the Republican operatives managing shadowy, undisclosed fronts running attack ads against Democrats were involved in the Koch’s election-planning event:

Corporate “investors” at the Koch meeting included businesses with a strong profit motive in rolling back President Obama’s enacted reforms. Several companies impacted by health reform, including Allan Hubbard of A & E Industries, a manufacturer of medical devices and Judson Green, a board member of health insurance conglomerate Aon, were present at the meeting. Other businessmen at the meeting, like Omaha Burger King franchiser Mike Simmonds, are owners of fast food stores which have fought efforts to provide health insurance to their employees. Many corporate attendees of the meeting represent the financial industry impacted by Wall Street reform. For instance, attendee Bill Cooper is the CEO of TCF Financial, a corporation involved in the mortgage banking industry. Cooper recently filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Wall Street reform. Other financial industry players in the meeting hail from firms ranging from Bank of America, JLM Investment, Allied Capital Corp, AMG National Trust, the Blackstone Group and Citadel Investment. Annie Dickerson, a representative of Paul Singer, a powerful hedge fund manager who also gives tens of millions to Republican causes, was present. In addition, Koch Industries itself has a hedge fund and other financial derivative products in its portfolio of interests, which include oil pipelines, coal shipping, asphalt, refineries, consumer goods, timber, ranching, and chemicals.

Corporate “investors” at the Koch meeting included businesses with a strong profit motive in preventing progressive reforms promised by President Obama. Several executives at the meeting have an incentive to stop Democrats and President Obama from addressing climate change and enacting clean energy reform. The meeting included oil executives from Aspect Energy, Murfin Drilling, Anschutz Company, GeoPark Holdings, Smoky Oil, and several members of Koch’s various subsidiaries. The meeting documents explicitly state that funding efforts to curb “climate change alarmism” were discussed.

Fred Malek, Karl Rove’s top fundraiser for his $56 million attack ad campaign against Democrats, attended the meeting, along with leaders of other secret attack groups. Heather Higgins, who leads the Independent Women’s Forum, a shadowy group that has spent millions of dollars in attack ads on health reform, attended the meeting. So did Gretchen Hamel, a former Bush flak who now runs an attack ad group called “Public Notice” that runs ad which denounce spending programs.

Participants collaborated with infamous consultants who specialize in generating fake grassroots movements, as well as experts on how corporations should take advantage of Citizens United. One session, about how to “mobilize citizens for November,” involved a discussion with Republican strategists Tim Phillips and Sean Noble, anti-union leader Mark Mix, and longtime Koch operative Karl Crow. Phillips — a veteran astroturf lobbyist who previously managed a deceptive grassroots lobbying campaign to help the Hong Kong-based Tan family maintain their forced abortion sweatshops in the Mariana Islands — now leads the day-to-day operations of Americans for Prosperity, the group ThinkProgress first reported to have helped organize many of the initial Tea Party rallies against Obama. Americans for Prosperity, founded and financed by David Koch, has a field team of over 80 campaign staffers spread out around the country, and additionally plans to spend $45 million dollars worth of attack ads against Democrats. Shortly before the planning meeting, Crow authored a campaign finance memo explaining that because of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, he advised specifically that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 501(c)(6) and Americans for Prosperity’s 501(c)(4) can “now use general treasury funds to produce communications materials opposing or supporting specific candidates” and corporations can aggressively pressure their employees to vote a certain way.

The memo notes that participants in the 2010 election planning meeting “committed to an unprecedented level of support.”

Interestingly, the Koch meetings are managed by Kevin Gentry, an executive who doubles as a staffer in the Koch Industries lobbying office in Washington and as the key point person who helps deliver Koch charitable foundation grants. As ThinkProgress has documented, Koch Industries has dramatically boosted its own profits by using conservative front groups to manipulate public policy. The fusion between the “intellectual” conservative movement and big businesses opposed to regulations and accountability has a history in America dating back to the New Deal. During the thirties, the Du Pont family and other wealthy interests organized an assortment of “Liberty League” front groups to try to defeat New Deal agenda items and repeal President Roosevelt’s Social Security program. Now, corporations fund groups like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute — both had representatives at the Koch meeting — to further their lobbying agenda. The American Enterprise Institute even changed its name from the New Deal-era American Enterprise Association to try to dispel the notion that they were nothing more than a glorified business trade association.

As the memo states, Beck has addressed this regular gathering of conservative corporate executives in previous years. Past Koch meetings have included various Republican lawmakers, including DeMint, and Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia as speakers.

After ThinkProgess published its exclusive investigation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealing that the Chamber has been actively fundraising from foreign corporations for its 501(c)(6) account used to run a $75 million attack ad campaign, Chamber lobbyists found common cause with Beck and many of the conservative talking heads. Shortly after our investigation, Beck hosted an on-air fundraiser, asking his audience to give to the Chamber. Casual observers might have been surprised by the Chamber’s swift alliance with Beck (Chamber executives appeared on the Beck radio program and sung Beck’s praises on the Chamber blog), who has compared Obama to Adolf Hitler and called the President a “racist” who has a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” By telling his listeners to give money to the Chamber, Beck, who owns a media company worth more than $32 million dollars and an experimental Mercedes Benz, essentially told his working class viewers to give their wages back to their employers. However, Beck never disclosed his long working history of discussing political strategy with America’s largest corporations. The Koch memo clearly shows that Beck has been collaborating with the Chamber, as well as other titans of industry, for years. In his latest appeal for support to the Chamber’s foreign-funded trade association, which already counts JP Morgan and ExxonMobil as dues-paying members, Beck yesterday told his audience that the Chamber simply “defends the little guy.”

Click below to view a letter inviting corporate executives to attend the next Koch meeting in January, along with a list of the sessions held by Koch for the last meeting in June of 2010. An attendee list of the June, 2010 meeting is attached at the bottom of the document:


CAPAF interns Salvatore Colleluori, Riley Waggaman, and Ben Kaldunski contributed to this post.

Some of the donors at the Koch meeting were longtime Bush fundraisers, like Cintas Corporation CEO Dick Farmer and wholesale executive Art Pope. However, many names appear to be relatively new to conservative movement “investment.”

Here’s a listing of the attendees:

Name(s)IndustryNotes
Jack and Rose Marie AndersonFinanceCulver Corp, Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation- Financial Advisor
Neil Anderson and Amy Fisher-Smith
Runs Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation
Phil and Nancy AnschutzInvestmentIndustrialist, Owner, Weekly Standard, Examiner newspapers
Cliff AsnessInvestmentAQR Capital Management
Nate and Lynda BachmanFinanceThe Bachman Group-Financial Advisor
Whitney BallThink TankOwner of a firm that helps corporations give anonymous gifts to front groups
Michael BaroneMediaFox News
Frank and Kathy BaxterBankingAmbassador Frank E. Baxter is Chairman Emeritus of Jefferies and Company, Inc., a global investment bank focusing on mid-cap companies.
Steve and Betty BechtelEngineeringOwns the Bechtel Group (Corporation), Largest engineering company in United States
Glenn BeckMediaFox News
Bernard and Margaret BlasingameManufacturingPresident and owner of Aqua Dynamics Systems, Inc
Alan and Lisa BoeckmannOilCEO Fluor Corporation
Boysie BollingerShipping/CommerceChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Bollinger Shipyards
Patrick and Paula BroeReal EstateFounder and CEO of Denver-based real estate asset management firm, The Broe Group
Arthur BrooksThink TankPresident, American Enterprise Institute
David and Ann BrownThink TankHeritage Foundation
John Bryan

Bob and Martha BufordOilC. Robert Buford has been President and owner of Zenith Drilling Corporation
Tim Busch

Shelby and Nell BushEnergyVice President, Legal and Administration – Hillwood Energy
Tim CarneyMediaPolitical Columnist, Washington Examiner
Charlies and Marla Chandler

David ChavernLobbyistExecutive Vice President and COO at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
John ChildsInsuranceChairman and CEO of J.W. Childs and Associates
Paul and Lea Clifton
Runs Robert and Marie Hansen Family Foundation
Susie CoelhoeMediafounder and CEO of Susie Coelho Enterprises Inc.
Bill Cooper and Kristen TollefsonFinance/BankingCEO of TCF Financial
Dino and Joan Cortopassi

Joe CraftCoalJoseph W. Craft III is president, chief executive officer and director of Alliance Resource Partners LP
Alex CranbergEnergyAspect Holdings, LLC – Chairman
Jeff CrankAmericans For Prosperity / Radio PunditAFP State Director
Karl CrowPolicy AnalystCapital Research Center
Eric Crown and Isabella KingTechnology SalesSell Technology Equipment
Kevin CrutchfieldCoalKevin S. Crutchfield serves as Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Coal Sales Co., LLC.
Ravenell and Beth Curry

Jim and Shirley DannenbaumEngineeringMr. Dannenbaum, Chairman of Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation
Veronique de RugyThink TankSenior research fellow at the Mercatus Center
Rich and Helen DeVosBusinessFounder and CEO of Amway
Annie DickersonBusinessCBRE analyst
Ned and Nancy Diefenthal

Jim and Dorothy PattersonOilGulf Stream Petroleum
Dan and Kellie PetersNon-for ProfitDaniel S. Peters is president of the Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio
Tom PetrieBankingCo-founder of BofA Merrill Lynch Petrie Divestiture Advisors
Dixon and Carol DollTechnologyCo-Founder and General Partner of DCM
Karl and Stevie EllerAdvertising
Ron and Kris EricksonRetailRonald A. Erickson is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Holiday Companies
Melvyn and Suellen EstrinNatural GasDirector of WGL Holdings INC
Dick Farmer

Peter FarrellBiomedFounder of Resmed
Jim and Zibbie FerrellFuel OilFerrellgas Partners, L.P. engages in the distribution and sale of propane and related equipment primarily in the United States.
Dave FettigNatural GasTank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Bob FettigNatural GasTank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Steve FettigNatural GasTank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Jerry and Nanette FingerBankingManaging Partner, Finger Interests LTD
Richard FinkKoch IndustriesDirector of Georgia-Pacific, EVP of Koch Industries
Budd and Lauri FlorkiewiczManufacturingFoam Fabricators
Charlie and Kaye Lynn FoteFinanceFounder and Chief Executive Officer, Fotec Group LLC
Randy and Jean FoutchOilChairman and Chief Executive Officer, Laredo Petroleum, Inc.
Foster FriessInvestmentMr. Foster Stephen Friess is the Founder and Chairman of Friess Associates, LLC
Steve and Polly Friess

Jerry and Leah FullinwiderEnergy/PetroleumVice Chairman, Hillwood International Energy, L.P.
Richard and Leslie GilliamCoalRichard Gilliam has been President of Cumberland Resources Corporation since 1993.
Susan GoreThink TankFounder, Wyoming Liberty Group
Oliver and Carolyn Grace Jr.Med and TelecomPresident and chief executive officer of Anderson Group, Inc.,
Judson and Joyce GreenEnergy and MedMr. Judson C. Green is the President and Chief Executive Officer of NAVTEQ Corp.
Ken and Anne GriffinInvestment BankingFounder and CEO of Citadel Investment Group
Gretchen Hamel

Fred and Jane HamiltonOilMr. Frederic C. Hamilton served as the President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of BHP Petroleum, Hamilton Oil Company and various Hamilton Oil Corporation subsidiaries and affiliates
Bob and Mary Sue HawkCommunicationsPresident of Hawk Communications
Dick and Ethie HaworthRetailHead of Haworth Furniture, Multi-national corporation, 3rd largest corporate furniture company in US
Robin and Barbara HayesGovernmentFormer NC Congressman
Dan and Carolyn HeardManufacturingExecutive Officer of John H. Carter Co.,
Diane HendricksManufacturingHusband of Ken Hendricks
Steve and Regina HennessyAuto SalesAuto Sales
James and Heather HigginsThink TankIndependent Women’s Forum
Paul HillOilPaul J. Hill serves as the Chief Executive Officer and has been President of Harvard Developments Inc. since 1978. Mr. Hill serves as the Chief Executive Officer and President of The Hill Companies.
John and Joan HotchkisEducationBoard of Directors for Teach for America UC Berkley
Allan and Kathy HubbardChemicals and ManufacturingFounder and Chief Executive Officer, E & A Industries, Inc.
Stan and Karen HubbardCommunicationsExecutive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc.
Ethelmae HumphreysThink TankCato Institute
Manley and Mary JohnsonPolitical Consultant
Merritt Johnson

Gerry and Priscilla O’ShaughnessyOilGerald Eugene O’Shaughnessy Co-founded Geopark Holding Limited in 2002.
Michael O’ShaunessyTechnologyPetters Consumer Brands, LLC develops consumer electronics and appliances.
Tim O’ShaughnessyMediaHungry Machine, Inc., doing business as LivingSocial.com, is a social discovery and cataloging network.
Marshall Johnson

Kyle and Kirsten Johnstone

Mike and Beth KasserReal EstatePresident, Holualoa Inc
Ken and Randy KendrickEducation/TechnologyChairman, Datatel
Phil and Joanna KerpenAdvocacy Group/Think TankVP of Policy, Americans for Prosperity
Gerry and Kathryn KingenRestauranteurRed Robin, Happy Guests Int’ll
Scott KirkpatrickInvestorTeton Capital
Charles and Liz KochKoch Industries
Chase and Annie KochKoch Industries
David and Julia KochKoch Industries
Elizabeth KochKoch Industries
Bob and Cindy KochKoch Industries
Bob KohlheppManufacturing/ServicesVice Chairman, Cintas Corp.
Dennis KuesterBankingRetired CEO of M&I Bank
Andrew KupersmithConsultantMD, Cardiology Consultants
Andre LacyInvestmentChairman, Lacy Diversified Industries
Ken and Elaine LangoneRetailInvemed, Home Depot
Jay and Sally LapeyreServicesLaitram Corp
Ken and Frayda LevyInvestmentJLM Investment Mgmt
Tom LoveRetailCEO, President, Love’s Country Stores
Bob LuddyManufacturingPresident, Captive Aire Systems
Fred and Marlene MalekInvestment ManagementThayer Capital Partners
Elaine Marshall
Homemaker
Pierce MarshallAdministrative ManagementMAROPCO
Preston Marshall

Bill MayerHealth CareMD, Mayer & Cope Family Practice
Glen and Diane MeakemBusiness SolutionsCEO, Freemarkets Inc.
Ed MeeseThink TankHeritage Foundation
Lew and Suzy MeibergenGoods/ServicesPresident, Johnston Enterprises/WG Johnston Grain Co
Don and Deede MeyersAttorneySelf Employed
Jerry and Caroline MilbankInvestment ManagementCEO/Principal, Milbank Winthrop & Co.
Jack and Goldie MillerRetailCEO/President, Quill Corp.
Mark MixAdvocacy GroupPresident, National Right to Work Committee
Joe and Mary MoellerKoch IndustriesVice Chairman
Steve MooreMediamember of the Wall Street Journal editorial board
David MurfinEnergyPresident, Murfin Drilling Co.
Walter and Suzette Negley

Mina Nguyen

Larry and Polly NicholsEnergyExecutive Chairman, Devon Energy Corp
Sean NobleFront GroupAmericans for Prosperity
Tim and Teresa OelkeAdvocacy Group/ConstructionTeresa – State Director of Americans for Prosperity, Tim – Crossland Construction Corp
Eric O’KeefeFront GroupSam Adams Alliance
Kurt and Nancy PfotenhauerMediaPresident of MediaSpeak Strategies/former political commentator on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC and former Senior Policy Advisor and National Spokesperson with the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign
Tim PhillipsAdvocacy Grouppresident, Americans for Prosperity
Ramesh PonnuruMediaNational Review magazine
Art and Kathy PopeGoods/ServicesSenior Exec, Variety Wholesaler
Russ RobertsAttorneyRoberts, Ashby & Parrish
Corbin and Barbara RobertsonEnergyPresident, Quintana Minerals Corp
Richard Roder and Karin HsuConstruction ManagementCEO, Cmt-Construction Management
Gary and Kathleen RogersGoodsFormer CEO, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream
Durk RorieManufacturingUnited Air Specialists
Chris RuferGoods/ManufacturingMorningstar Company
Peter Schiff and Martha O’BrienInvestorSchiff: Euro Pacific Capital Inc.,
Steve and Christine SchwarzmanFinancial ServicesCEO/founder, Blackstone Group
Rick and Sherry SharpRetailFormer CEO, Circuit City
Mike and Lin SimmondsServicesCEO, Simmonds Restaurant Mgmt
Peter SmithServicesCEO, Service Group of America
Dick StrongInvestment ServicesStrong/Corneliuson Capital Mgmt
Michael SullivanInvestment ServicesCR Intrinsic Investors
Ray and Ladeline ThompsonManufacturingPresident/CEO, Semitool
Lynn TiltonInvestment ManagementCEO, Patriarch Partners LLC
Dave and Melanie TrueOilPartner
Steve TwistConsultantRose & Allyn PR Consultants
Jim and Gayla Von EhrResearch/DevelopmentCEO, Zyvex Corp
Rick and Debra WallerManufacturingOwner, Rollmeister Inc
Peter WallisonThink TankFellow, American Enterprise Institute
Bill and Sarah WaltonReal EstateAllied Capital Corp
Lew and Myra WardOilWard Petroleum Corporation owns and operates wells. It engages in oil and gas exploration and production. The company was founded in 1963 and is based in Enid, Oklahoma.
Dick WeekleyReal EstateWeekley Properties
Fred and Susie WehbaReal EstateBentley Forbes Real Estate
Nestor Weigand and Darcy BuehlerReal EstateJP Weigand & Sons Real Estate
Dick and Mary Beth WeissLife InsuranceWells Fargo, Hawthorne Rances
Howard and Rhonda WilkinsInsuranceDiversified Insurance
Don and Sue WillsOil
Larry and Lorraine WinnermanReal EstateWin Win Enterprises
Joe Woodford

Earl WrightFinanceAMG Natinal Trust
Karen Wright and Tom RastinEnergy/ManufacturingTom Rastin, vice president of marketing and engineering, Ariel Corp – Karen Wright, Ariel CEO
Cliff and Susan YonceInvestment BankingGoldman Sachs
Fred and Sandra YoungServicesDiversified Search, LLC provides senior-level executive and corporate board search services in the United States and internationally. It provides recruitment services for various organizations in consumer and industrial, education, not-for-profit, arts and culture, financial and professional services, business, healthcare and human services, life sciences, media and entertainment, sports and leisure, energy and utilities, private equity, retail, and technology and communications industries.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In Memorium

Laura Nyro
October 18, 1947 - April 8, 1997

Laura, I know that maybe this is the wrong, wrong time
But Laura where did that magic go
It’s so hard, it’s so cold down here
Did you have to leave me behind?
I wish that I could make it
But how I love to shuffle (how I love to shuffle)
Baby let’s swing
Now I love to shuffle
Ever since I heard you sing (since I heard her sing)

-- Todd Rundgren, "Baby Let's Swing"

Click here to listen to the incredibly rare and beautiful duet of Kenny Rankin and Laura Nyro singing "Polonaise."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Obama's record at half term

The "Politifact" feature of the St. Petersberg Times has rightly won a Pulitzer Prize for filtering the baloney from what passes for political discourse in the 21st century U.S. of A. Take a look at Mr. Obama's record so far in keeping campaign promises. So where's the message machine?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The politics of delusion

As any of you who have found yourself at this blog more than once, I count myself unapologetically among the small army of Todd Rundgren cultists. So I was rather surprised when I chanced upon a tribute to Todd R. on a right wing blog site that canonized The Gipper himself, yes, the original bag man of the New Robber Baron era, Ron Reagan. Of course said blogger's tribute doted on Todd's 70's era (the apotheosis of his true hero's golden era).

As you may know, I am no Reagan fan. So, cantankerous liberal that I am, I posted a dissent (no screed, no profanity, just good clean dissent about the
true legacy of ol' avuncular Ron).

Of course, my post was gone within minutes. So I posted again. Poof - censored again.


So there you have it. In my experience, it is only right wing bloggers who expunge all dissenting comments from their posts. And that, my friends, is truly their version of democracy.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Truth is, there are only two things that the United States is not running out of: Rich people and bullshit."
-- Bill Maher

And while you're at it, read the whole article "When Will Obscenely Rich A**holes Stop Crying About Taxes?" by Bill here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Toddstock

This is (pro parte) why I love this guy! Wish I'd been there.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why I'm Voting Tea Party











































































































A tip o' the Mirsky hat to I'm Voting Tea Party.

Even if Barack Obama is left-handed.

Now, go there and buy a T-Shirt to wear at the Oct. 30 Stop the Insanity rally in DC.