Obamacare opponents have already run more than 30,000 television ads attacking the health law and Democratic candidates who support it, according to the media tracking group CMAG — a staggering 12-fold increase from four years ago. Many of the ads are being run in states with high uninsurance rates where hundreds of thousands of poor people could benefit from the Affordable Care Act, including Arkansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
Nearly half of all ads that have been run about the health law in House and Senate races through March 9 are critical of the ACA. And in a reflection of the post-Citizens United political landscape, spending by outside groups without any official connection to a particular organization or party accounts for almost three-fourths of all the commercials, compared to just 13 percent in 2010.
“We knew there would be heightened public awareness around the implementation of the law, and we thought it was important to go up early with a heavy effort,” said Tim Phillips, president of the Koch brother-funded group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), in an interview with Bloomberg.
AFP has run the most anti-Obamacare ads of any political group by a large margin, targeting vulnerable Democrats who are up for re-election, such as Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). The organization’s spots play up misleading “horror stories” related to the health law, such as Americans who have had their insurance policies cancelled or seen their premiums spike. But the ads’ content tends to range from exaggeration to outright misinformation — and AFP has even been caught hiring paid actors to play the roles of “real” local residents.
Turns out, limousine Leninist and friend to Venezuela’s Chavistas had his West Village apartment pad designed by the interior designer for the Koch brothers.
Oliver Stone’s West Village Pied-a-Terre
How interior designer Geoffrey Bradfield shunned convention with a celebrity client, and with his Kips Bay Show House project
By Kelly O’Brien
Interior designer Geoffrey Bradfield is a man with an impressive Rolodex. Take clients like the Koch Brothers, for whom he collaborated in designing their Wichita, Kansas, headquarters, as well as a private residence. Or Jack Resnick & Sons, the mammoth Manhattan developer who commissioned Bradfield for all of its New York lobbies. Oliver Stone’s luxurious apartment on the Hudson was a recent project of Bradfield’s. And the high-profile Kips Bay Show House in 2008 included one of Bradfield’s indelible designs. New American Luxury had the chance to talk with Bradfield about what it’s like to design for the high-end market in New York City.Oliver Stone and President Nicholas Maduro
You designed an apartment for Oliver Stone last year. Tell me a little bit about the challenges involved in that project and how you found that “individual meaning.”
My client, being a movie director, is accustomed to having film sets constructed overnight, and struck down after filming. In a sense, he was expecting a similar schedule with this apartment. Because so much of my work is custom and designed by my company, we had to explain that there were certain time frames involved. However, I work best under a deadline, and we pulled it off.
The idea was to create an environment not unlike that of a stateroom on a yacht. The views from the apartment [which is on a low floor] of the Hudson River are spectacular, and we wanted to take full advantage of these vistas. I created deep window seats in the open-plan living room and introduced subtle nautical elements. Oliver required a large table surface in this space, as he likes to spread out his editing materials whilst in production, so the dining table serves this double function. The floors are deliberately stained in a red-cherry finish not unlike the decks of a yacht.
There’s one main rule at the conservative donor conclaves held twice a year by Charles and David Koch at luxury resorts: What happens there stays there.
The billionaire industrialists and their political operatives strive to ensure the anonymity of the wealthy conservatives who fund their sprawling political operation—which funneled more than $400 million into the 2012 elections—and to keep their plans private. Attendees of these summits are warned that the seminars, where the Kochs and their allies hatch strategies for electing Republicans and advancing conservative initiatives on the state and national levels, are strictly confidential; they are cautioned to keep a close eye on their meeting notes and materials. But last week, following the Kochs’ first donor gathering of 2014, one attendee left behind a sensitive document at the Renaissance Esmeralda resort outside of Palm Springs, California, where the Kochs and their comrades had spent three days focused on winning the 2014 midterm elections and more. The document lists VIP donors—including John Schnatter, the founder of the Papa John’s pizza chain—who were scheduled for one-on-one meetings with representatives of the political, corporate, and philanthropic wings of Kochworld. The one-page document, provided to Mother Jones by a hotel guest who discovered it, offers a fascinating glimpse into the Kochs’ political machine and shows how closely intertwined it is with Koch Industries, their $115 billion conglomerate.
The more than 40 donors courted by the Kochs include hedge fund and private-equity billionaires, real estate tycoons, and executives of top corporations, including Jockey International and TRT Holdings, owner of Omni Hotels and Gold’s Gym. A number of them have never been identified as members of the Koch donor network, including Schnatter, one of the more prominent names on the list. An outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act, he is a longtime Republican donor who hosted a fundraiser for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. The document notes that the pizza mogul was scheduled to meet with Ryan Stowers, the director of higher education at the Charles G. Koch Foundation. (Schnatter did not respond to requests for comment.)
Some days, you read something and you think to yourself, you know, there’s the Pacific Ocean right over there, I could start walking and keep going because what in the name of god is the point any more?
The resources and the breadth of the organization make it singular in American politics: an operation conducted outside the campaign finance system, employing an array of groups aimed at stopping what its financiers view as government overreach. Members of the coalition target different constituencies but together have mounted attacks on the new health-care law, federal spending and environmental regulations. Key players in the Koch-backed network have already begun engaging in the 2014 midterm elections, hiring new staff members to expand operations and strafing House and Senate Democrats with hard-hitting ads over their support for the Affordable Care Act.
This is two guys — TWO FREAKING GUYS! — and they have more power within the American political system than a million earnest volunteers knocking on doors. They have more influence than millions of people writing letters to the editors, protesting outside school boards, or organizing online. This is two guys — TWO FREAKING GUYS! — whose politics were formed on what was still considered the Republican fringe in the 1950s and 1960s, and they have more power within the American political system than what’s left of the entire infrastructure of organized labor.
In Madison WI, the scariest terrorists imaginable are people standing in the Rotunda, singing songs. Apparently these people are so scary that they have to be arrested whenever they show up and if you’re a reporter showing this to the world, you too are apparently so scary that you have to be arrested too.
The daily arrests at the Wisconsin State Capitol took a new twist Thursday as police arrested the editor of The Progressive magazine while he was documenting the event.
Matt Rothschild says he was arrested while he was trying to get a picture of police loading a cuffed protester onto the capitol elevator. He says he was 15-20 feet away from the elevator when an officer told him he couldn’t be there. “I had my reporter’s pad out, I had my cell phone out, I announced myself as a journalist a couple times. There was no question that I was with the Fourth Estate, but that didn’t seem to matter to them at all.”
Rothschild says he was cuffed, taken to the Dane County jail in the back of a squad car, fingerprinted, detained in a holding cell and eventually ticketed for obstructing an officer. Asked about the arrest, the state Department of Administration did not mention Rothschild by name, but said a person had interfered with an officer while they were detaining someone.
The Progressive is up front about its point of view — it calls itself a left wing magazine. But Rothschild says he was not participating in Thursday’s Solidarity Sing Along, only documenting it.
I try to be very aware of the history of the last hundred years and not godwin. But the state government of Wisconsin under the Walker Regime is moving quickly in the direction of Spanish Falangist fascism. Wisconsin is no longer a sovereign state but rather a wholy owned subsidiary of the Koch Brothers. This suppression of dissent is straight out of the right wing playbook of any number of nations over the past 100 years.
Instead of this, or racist “Stop & Frisk” programs or the destruction of Women’s Health Care, or Voter
ID Suppression, or any or the myriad of other real civil liberty violations happening daily, the Emo-Progs, Pseduo-Libertarians and Dudebros want us to think the NSA and our 1st World problems with it is the most important thing we face.
I grieve for the nation I grew up in.
More on this story here:
Billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch have been dominant financiers for conservative front groups and nonprofits for nearly three decades. Their money has flowed to organizations dedicated to lobbying for corporate and upper income tax cuts, as well as to groups responsible for mobilizing Tea Party rallies against President Obama. But the Koch family’s association with fringe right-wing groups began a generation earlier with Fred Koch, the patriarch of the clan.
Fred not only founded the company now known as Koch Industries, he also was a founding member of the John Birch Society. As a founding board member, Fred helped engineer a hysterical wave of attacks on labor, intellectuals, public education, liberal clergy members, and other pillars of society he viewed as a threat. Birchers decried everyone from former President Eisenhower to water utility administrators as pawns in a global communist conspiracy. In the last two years, as the Koch name has become synonymous with right-wing plutocracy in the United States, the Koch family has played down its relation to the Birchers.
Koch warned that American institutions were honeycombed with communist subversives, from labor unions and tax-free foundations to universities and churches. Art and newsprint, radio and television — all these media had been transmuted into vehicles of communist propaganda. […] Fred Koch was no fly-by-night pamphleteer. He spent a generous portion of his later years using his wealth and influence to fight the communism he abhorred. He was an early member of the The John Birch Society’s National Council, an advisory group to JBS founder Robert Welch. Koch supported a variety of freedom-related causes, all the while continuing to build the company today known as Koch Industries.
On Thursday, the Georgia Public Service Commission will decide whether to require Georgia Power, the state’s sole investor-owned electricity provider, to significantly expand its use of solar energy. The fight to diversify the state’s power supply has united some unlikely bedfellows — namely, renewable energy advocates and leaders of the Atlanta Tea Party.
Tea Party members supporting the solar expansion see it as a simple free market issue. They believe consumers have the right to choose where their electricity comes from and shouldn’t be forced to remain dependent on a single source, especially in light of the rapidly declining cost of solar.
However, the Koch Brothers (huge underwriters of the Tea Party Movement) are fighting this….
Despite the Tea Party’s support, Americans For Prosperity, a conservative group funded by the Koch brothers, came out against the proposed solar measure last week — launching what it calls “a multi-pronged, grassroots driven initiative” urging activists to pressure members of the PSC to reject the solar expansion.
In an email to its 50,000 members across the state, AFP Georgia director Virginia Galloway asks, “What if I told you something you’re not even hearing about in the news is about to raise your electricity bill by more than 40 percent and reduce the reliability of every appliance and electronics gadget in your home? That’s what will happen when your Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) votes on July 11th if you don’t take action today!”
Words, they fail me….
A conservative mogul worth $25 billion says he knows the secret to helping poor people. According to Charles Koch, the U.S. needs to get rid of the minimum wage, which he counts as a major obstacle to economic growth.
On Wednesday, the Charles Koch Foundation launched a $200,000 media campaign in Wichita, Kansas, with a hint of expanding it elsewhere. It is the Kochs’ biggest media buy since they promised to do more to “persuade politicians” after suffering losses in the 2012 election.
In an interview with the Wichita Eagle published Tuesday, Koch said that the minimum wage is one policy he is working against:
We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country, rather than saying ‘Oh, we’re just fine now.’ We’re not saying that at all. What we’re saying is, we need to analyze all these additional policies, these subsidies, this cronyism, this avalanche of regulations, all these things that are creating a culture of dependency. And like permitting, to start a business, in many cities, to drive a taxicab, to become a hairdresser. Anything that people with limited capital can do to raise themselves up, they keep throwing obstacles in their way. And so we’ve got to clear those out. Or the minimum wage. Or anything that reduces the mobility of labor.
The Kansas ad does not specifically mention the minimum wage, but it does claim that Americans earning $34,000 a year should count themselves as lucky, because that puts them in the top 1 percent of the world. “That is the power of economic freedom,” the ad concluded. Meanwhile, Charles and David Koch are the ones comfortably in the 1 percent, with a net worth of about 1 million times that figure. Watch the ad:
These evil assholes just make me want to vomit.
How can they, or the Waltons, possibly be harmed by paying their workers a living wage?
If the lowest-paid workers earn more, they will spend more, thereby stimulating the economy.
If the super-rich get more money by fucking over the poor, they don’t stimulate the economy, they just hoard their stash in offshore bank accounts.
Koch Brothers and the Waltons are like a real life Smaug.
When President Obama unveiled his program to tackle climate change last month, he deliberately sidestepped Congress as a hopeless bastion of obstruction, relying completely on changes that could be imposed by regulatory agencies. A two-year study by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, released today, illustrates what might be one of the reasons why he had to take this circuitous route. Fossil fuel magnates Charles and David Koch have, through Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group they back, succeeded in persuading many members of Congress to sign a little-known pledge in which they have promised to vote against “legislation relating to climate change unless it is accompanied by an equivalent amount of tax cuts.” Since most solutions to the problem of greenhouse-gas emissions require costs to the polluters and the public, the pledge essentially commits those who sign to it to vote against nearly any meaningful bill regarding global warning, and acts as yet another roadblock to action.
The investigative study tracks the political influence wielded by the billionaire Koch brothers, who have harnessed part of the fortune generated by their company, Koch Industries, the second largest private corporation in the country, to further their conservative libertarian activism. Charles Lewis, the Executive Editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop explained that the I.R.W., a non-profit news organization attached to American University, spent two years focussing on Koch Industries because, “There is no other corporation in the U.S. today, in my view, that is as unabashedly, bare-knuckle aggressive across the board about its own self-interest, in the political process, in the nonprofit-policy-advocacy realm, even increasingly in academia and the broader public marketplace of ideas.” Formerly head of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, Lewis has focussed for years on the way money affects American politics. “The Kochs’ influence, without a doubt, is growing,” he believes. A spokeswoman for the Kochs declined to comment.
In its multi-part report, “The Koch Club,” written by Lewis, Eric Holmberg, Alexia Campbell, and Lydia Beyoud, the Workshop found that between 2007 and 2011 the Kochs donated $41.2 million to ninety tax-exempt organizations promoting the ultra-libertarian policies that the brothers favor—policies that are often highly advantageous to their corporate interests. In addition, during this same period they gave $30.5 million to two hundred and twenty-one colleges and universities, often to fund academic programs advocating their worldview. Among the positions embraced by the Kochs are fewer government regulations on business, lower taxes, and skepticism about the causes and impact of climate change.
Climate-change policy directly affects Koch Industries’s bottom line. Koch Industries, according to Environmental Protection Agency statistics cited in the study, is a major source of carbon-dioxide emissions, the kind of pollution that most scientists believe causes global warming. In 2011, according to the E.P.A.’s greenhouse-gas-reporting database, the company, which has oil refineries in three states, emitted over twenty-four million tons of carbon dioxide, as much as is typically emitted by five million cars.
“Citizen Koch,” a documentary about money in politics focused on the Wisconsin uprising, was shunned by PBS for fear of offending billionaire industrialist David Koch, who has given $23 million to public television, according to Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. The dispute highlights the increasing role of private money in “public” television and raises even further concerns about the Kochs potentially purchasing eight major daily newspapers.
The film from Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Carl Deal and Tia Lessin documents how the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision helped pave the way for secret political spending by players like the Kochs, who contributed directly and indirectly to the election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in 2010 and came to his aid again when the battle broke out over his effort to limit collective bargaining.
Originally slated to appear on PBS stations nationwide as part of the “Independent Lens” series, “Citizen Koch” had its funding pulled after David Koch was offended by another PBS documentary critical of the billionaire industrialists.
“People like the Kochs have worked for decades to undermine public funding for institutions like PBS,” Deal told the Center for Media and Democracy. “When public dollars dry up, private dollars come in to make up for the shortfall.”
And that private funding can conflict with PBS’ “public” mission and its editorial integrity. The PBS distributor “backed out of the partnership because they came to fear the reaction our film would provoke,” Deal and Lessin said in a statement. “David Koch, whose political activities are featured in the film, happens to be a public-television funder and a trustee of both [New York PBS member station] WNET and [Boston member station] WGBH. This wasn’t a failed negotiation or a divergence of visions; it was censorship, pure and simple.”