B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Archive for the ‘Koch’ tag

Trump and the Koch Brothers Are Working in Concert

without comments

All Tangled Up In Dreams And Aspirations
All Tangled Up In Dreams And Aspirations

The New York Times reports:

President Trump and the Koch brothers have made it clear that they don’t like each other. Politically speaking, they are in fundamental disagreement over trade, tariffs and immigration.

Nonetheless, there is a functional Trump-Koch alliance, and the Republican Party has capitalized handsomely on it. Trump’s racially freighted, anti-immigrant rhetoric has been essential to persuading white voters to agree to Republicans’ long-sought tax and regulatory policies. These policies are inimical or irrelevant to the interests of low- and moderate-income Americans. They have been promulgated by the Trump administration, but many of them have been meticulously prepared and packaged by the Kochs’ massive political network.

The Kochs’ policy objectives that have been realized since Trump took office are legion: enactment of the $1.5 trillion tax cut; the opening of public lands to mining; the appointment of men and women with industry ties to key regulatory posts; weakened enforcement of worker safety rules; the proposed elimination or rollback of numerous environmental regulations; the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, along with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, and the appointment of judges favored by the Kochs to all levels of the federal bench.

(click here to continue reading Opinion | Trump and the Koch Brothers Are Working in Concert – The New York Times.)

Peas in a pod – oligarchs who despise American Constitutional Democracy, and the will of the people. I guess to be more accurate, Trump is a wanna-be oligarch, but he’s well on his way.

The Koch-Trump-GOP alliance is why Trump is still Resident, and why the Congress lickspittles like Rep. Devin Nunes and Paul Ryan are so dedicated to protecting Trump from consequences of his Crazy Town actions.

The Kochs know it too:

Koch also told donors, “We’ve made more progress in the past five years than I’ve made in the previous 50.”

Trump and the Kochs are not just complementary; they are symbiotic. Trump is essential to marketing the Kochs’ vision. Without him, the Koch agenda would fail.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 7th, 2018 at 8:32 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

EPA blocks warnings on cancer-causing chemical – formaldehyde

without comments

V O T E
V O T E

Politico reports on why elections matter, part the 567,543,566th:

The Trump administration is suppressing an Environmental Protection Agency report that warns that most Americans inhale enough formaldehyde vapor in the course of daily life to put them at risk of developing leukemia and other ailments, a current and a former agency official told POLITICO.

The warnings are contained in a draft health assessment EPA scientists completed just before Donald Trump became president, according to the officials. They said top advisers to departing Administrator Scott Pruitt are delaying its release as part of a campaign to undermine the agency’s independent research into the health risks of toxic chemicals.

Andrew Wheeler, the No. 2 official at EPA who will be the agency’s new acting chief as of Monday, also has a history with the chemical. He was staff director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2004, when his boss, then-Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), sought to delay an earlier iteration of the formaldehyde assessment.

Formaldehyde is one of the most commonly used chemicals in the country. Americans are exposed to it through wood composites in cabinets and furniture, as well as air pollution from major refineries. The new assessment would give greater weight to warnings about the chemical’s risks and could lead to stricter regulations from the EPA or class-action lawsuits targeting its manufacturers, as frequently occurs after these types of studies are released.

“They’re stonewalling every step of the way,” the current official said, accusing political appointees of interfering with the formaldehyde assessment and other reports on toxic chemicals produced by EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System. Industry has long faulted the IRIS program, the agency’s only independent scientific division evaluating the health risks of toxic chemicals, whose assessments often form the basis for federal and state regulations.

Interfering with the formaldehyde study is one of several steps Trump’s EPA has taken to side with the businesses the agency is supposed to regulate and undermine the agency’s approach to science, critics say. Public health advocates also expressed alarm after Pruitt replaced academic scientists with industry advocates on the agency’s influential science advisory boards and sought to limitthe types of human health research the EPA can rely on in rulemakings.

The officials said Trump appointees have required that career officials receive their permission before beginning the required internal review of the formaldehyde study and have canceled key briefings that would have advanced it. That interference came after EPA career scientists revised the study once already last year to insulate it from political controversy, they said.

(click here to continue reading Sources: EPA blocks warnings on cancer-causing chemical – POLITICO.)

So, scientists at the EPA are leaking to Politico because they don’t want to be hauled in to defend themselves in a class action law suit in a few years…

Tomorrow We Vote
Tomorrow We Vote

Just out of morbid curiosity, I googled formaldehyde manufacturers, and one of the first to come up is Georgia Pacific. You may recall their owner: Koch Industries. The EPA stonewalling makes a lot more sense now, doesn’t it?

And this isn’t a new story, as it was discussed back in 2010, for instance

Kevin Grandia reported:

Our research has uncovered very strong ties between Georgia-Pacific, a company co-owned by David Koch through Koch Industries, and a political lobby group called the Formaldehyde Council that is involved in efforts to downplay the dangers posed by formaldehyde to human health.

Formaldehyde is classified as a “Group 1 Carcinogen” which is defined as an agent that “is definitely carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and “a complete carcinogen” in the words of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The National Toxicology Program also recently revised its characterization of formaldehyde to that of “known human carcinogen.”

But this determination by top scientists and researchers has not stopped Formaldehyde Council Inc. from trying to convince lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the links between Formaldehyde and cancer are highly overstated.

According to IRS filings [pdf], the Formaldehyde Council was formed in 1995 with the mission to,

“encourage accurate scientific evaluation of Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-based materials and to communicate sound scientific information relating to the uses, benefits and sustainability of these products.”
The Council’s operating budget in 2008 was $2.7 million and it reported $2 million in “membership dues and assessments.”

David Koch’s company, Georgia-Pacific, one of the largest manufacturers of Formaldehyde in the United States, is listed on the Formaldehyde Council’s website as a “member” since at least 2004.

(click here to continue reading Koch Industries Funds Attack on Science Linking Formaldehyde and Cancer | HuffPost.)

We need to have leaders in the EPA who actually care about protecting the environment, and our health, and not the profits of polluters like the Koch family.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 14th, 2018 at 9:34 am

Posted in environment,politics,science

Tagged with , ,

The Koch Brothers vs. God

without comments

To blaspheme the earth is now the dreadfulest sin
To blaspheme the earth is now the dreadfulest sin

Fascinating story about a new line of anti-environmental attacks from the Kochs, and the ensuing counter-attack from religious people. We only have on Earth, let’s keep it habitable, and not exploit it for money for a few, leaving our planet despoiled.

At another rally focused on fossil fuels a year earlier in Richmond, religion was front and center.

In December 2016, gospel music stars descended on a local community center in Richmond’s East Highland Park neighborhood. Hundreds of residents from throughout the area had answered the call to attend a concert marketed as an opportunity for enlightenment, both spiritual and environmental.

As a sea of hands waved through the air as eyes closed in prayer, what many in the crowd didn’t know was that they were the target of a massive propaganda campaign. One of the event’s sponsors was a fossil-fuel advocacy group called Fueling U.S. Forward, an outfit supported by Koch Industries, the petrochemicals, paper, and wood product conglomerate founded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.

The gospel program was designed to highlight the benefits of oil and natural gas production and its essential role in the American way of life. During a break in the music, a panel discussion unfolded about skyrocketing utility costs. The lobbyists and businesspeople on the panel presented a greater reliance on fossil fuels — billed as cheap, reliable energy sources — as the fix. Later, a surprise giveaway netted four lucky attendees the opportunity to have their power bills paid for them.

The event was one big bait and switch, according to environmental experts and local activists. Come for the gospel music, then listen to us praise the everlasting goodness of oil and gas. Supporting this sort of pro-oil-and-gas agenda sprinkled over the songs of praise, they say, would only worsen the pollution and coastal flooding that come with climate change, hazards that usually hit Virginia’s black residents the hardest.

“The tactic was tasteless and racist, plain and simple,” says Kendyl Crawford, the Sierra Club of Richmond’s conservation program coordinator. “It’s exploiting the ignorance many communities have about climate change.”

Rev. Wilson likens that gospel concert to the Biblical story of Judas accepting 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus. Like many African Americans in Virginia, he initially didn’t connect environmental policy with what he calls the “institutional racism” — think racial profiling, lack of economic opportunity, etc. — that can plague black communities nationwide. Now he considers “the sea level rising or the air quality in the cities” another existential threat.

So in response to the Koch Brothers’ attempt to sway their flocks, Wilson and others affiliated with black churches in Virginia have channeled their outrage into a new calling: climate advocacy. For Wilson, environmentalism has become a biblical mission.

(click here to continue reading The Koch Brothers vs. God.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 15th, 2018 at 9:15 am

Posted in Business,environment,religion

Tagged with ,

The Koch Brothers’ Favorite Congressman Could Be Secretary of State

without comments

Old News To You Then
Old News To You Then. 

Speaking of the potential new Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo…

In the “Republican Wave” election of 2010, when brothers Charles and David Koch emerged as defining figures in American politics, the greatest beneficiary of Koch Industries largess was the newly elected Congressman Mike Pompeo. Since his election, Pompeo has been referred to as the “Koch Brothers’ Congressman” and “the congressman from Koch.

[Pompeo] is a foreign-policy hawk who has fiercely opposed the Iran nuclear deal, stoked fears of Muslims in the United States and abroad, opposed closing the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, and defended the National Security Agency’sunconstitutional surveillance programs as “good and important work.” He has even gone so far as to say that NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden “should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence.”

Pompeo’s open disregard for privacy rights in particular and civil liberties in general, as well as his penchant for extreme language and more extreme policies, mark him as a profoundly troublesome pick to serve as the head of a powerful intelligence agency. But he is also one of the most remarkably conflicted political figures in the conflicted city of Washington, thanks to his ties to the privately held and frequently secretive global business empire that has played a pivotal role in advancing his political career.

(click here to continue reading The Koch Brothers’ Favorite Congressman Will Be in Charge of the CIA | The Nation.)

Two powerful constituencies within the Trumponovela, Koch Brothers and the Kremlin are both pleased by Pompeo’s elevation.

In the Sixteenth Minute
In the Sixteenth Minute

You know, these guys:

 

The Tea Party movement’s dirty little secret is that its chief financial backers owe their family fortune to the granddaddy of all their hatred: Stalin’s godless empire of the USSR. The secretive oil billionaires of the Koch family, the main supporters of the right-wing groups that orchestrated the Tea Party movement, would not have the means to bankroll their favorite causes had it not been for the pile of money the family made working for the Bolsheviks in the late 1920s and early 1930s, building refineries, training Communist engineers and laying down the foundation of Soviet oil infrastructure.

 

The comrades were good to the Kochs. Today Koch Industries has grown into the second-largest private company in America. With an annual revenue of $100 billion, the company was just $6.3 billion shy of first place in 2008. Ownership is kept strictly in the family, with the company being split roughly between brothers Charles and David Koch, who are worth about $20 billion apiece and are infamous as the largest sponsors of right-wing causes. They bankroll scores of free-market and libertarian think tanks, institutes and advocacy groups. Greenpeace estimates that the Koch family shelled out $25 million from 2005 to 2008 funding the “climate denial machine,” which means they outspent Exxon Mobile three to one.

Here is a better historical fact, one that the Kochs don’t like to repeat in public: the family’s initial wealth was not created by the harsh, creative forces of unfettered capitalism, but by the grace of the centrally planned economy of the Soviet Union. The Koch family, America’s biggest pushers of the free-market Tea Party revolution, would not be the billionaires they are today were it not for the whim of one of Stalin’s comrades.

 

 

(click here to continue reading The Roots of Stalin in the Tea Party Movement | Alternet.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 13th, 2018 at 9:38 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Why Healthcare Companies Are Leaving Kansas for Missouri

without comments

Remembering Your Infinite Course
Remembering Your Infinite Course

And speaking about why Donald Trump is the Republican Party of 2016, and how belief in Voodoo Economics is the underpinning of the GOP con, there is the real world example of Kansas. A Tea Party governor, a Tea Party legislature, and free reign to implement all those Koch and ALEC inspired schemes for going on five years now. 

Sliding north, we find ourselves in the failed state of Kansas, now in the fifth year of the Brownbackian Dark Ages, as such things are reckoned. Somehow, the fact that Kansas’ status as a supply-side lab rat has dropped the state down a political garbage chute the likes of which hasn’t been seen since they shredded the Articles of Confederation is beginning to seep under the guardhouses of the gated communities. The head of a healthcare company is fleeing to the Missouri border and he’s not shy about telling the world why. 

From Pathfinder Health Innovations CEO Jeff Blackwood

It wasn’t just that Brownback was conservative; it was that he is seen as a tool of the Koch brothers and ALEC, a conservative think tank and lobbying organization. Brownback used his influence and funding to eliminate “moderate” republicans from the Kansas legislature and install his hand-picked conservative cronies. He couldn’t do the same with the Kansas Supreme Court, which has ruled a number of the conservative legislature’s laws as unconstitutional, so Brownback’s administration decided to threaten to cut off funding to the court system and is actively pursuing legislation to impeach the Supreme Court.

Kansas has become a test center of “trickle down” economics, espoused by economist Arthur Laffer during the Reagan years. Nowhere has there been as thorough an implementation of Laffer’s policy recommendations… and nowhere has there been as dramatic a failure of government. Under Brownback’s direction, Kansas implemented an unprecedented tax cut in 2012, eliminating taxes for LLCs and professional firms (for full disclosure, PHI is a C Corporation) and making the largest cuts in the highest tax brackets. He shifted taxes to create a heavier burden on property and sales taxes, which typically represent a larger burden on lower income brackets. Brownback declared that this tax cut would be a “shot of adrenaline” for the Kansas economy, but the reality is that the tax cuts have had the opposite effect. Kansas lags neighboring states in job growth. For 11 of the last 12 months, Kansas has dramatically missed revenue targets, falling deeper in debt and facing another round of degraded bond ratings.

The worst part is that the burdens for the shortfalls rest on the shoulders of those who can least afford it – children and the developmentally disabled.

This guy says it flat out–Brownback has engineered the failure of government in Kansas to prove to himself and to the world that government inevitably fails. It’s not often that you see it made that plain, and now it’s time to point out that enough voters in Kansas showed up and re-elected this cluck in what only can be seen now as a suicide pact.

 

(click here to continue reading Why Healthcare Companies Are Leaving Kansas for Missouri.)

Discarded Cautions
Discarded Cautions

and a brief refresher of the Return of Voodoo Economics from Paul Krugman:

During his failed bid for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination George H. W. Bush famously described Ronald Reagan’s “supply side” doctrine — the claim that cutting taxes on high incomes would lead to spectacular economic growth, so that tax cuts would pay for themselves — as “voodoo economic policy.” Bush was right. Even the rapid recovery from the 1981-82 recession was driven by interest-rate cuts, not tax cuts. Still, for a time the voodoo faithful claimed vindication.

First, voodoo economics has dominated the conservative movement for so long that it has become an inward-looking cult, whose members know what they know and are impervious to contrary evidence. Fifteen years ago leading Republicans may have been aware that the Clinton boom posed a problem for their ideology. Today someone like Senator Rand Paul can say: “When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan.” Clinton who?

Second, the nature of the budget debate means that Republican leaders need to believe in the ways of magic. For years people like Mr. Ryan have posed as champions of fiscal discipline even while advocating huge tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations. They have also called for savage cuts in aid to the poor, but these have never been big enough to offset the revenue loss. So how can they make things add up?

Well, for years they have relied on magic asterisks — claims that they will make up for lost revenue by closing loopholes and slashing spending, details to follow. But this dodge has been losing effectiveness as the years go by and the specifics keep not coming.

(click here to continue reading Voodoo Economics, the Next Generation – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 16th, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Congress Extends Itself Tax Extender Style

without comments

Relentless
Relentless

Gail Collins provides a good elevator pitch description of a tax policy tool called tax extenders…

One of the very, very few things the current Congress seems determined to deal with before it vanishes into the night is the problem of “tax extenders.” Extenders are strange but much-loved little financial mutants. Sort of like hobbits or three-legged kittens.

Congress, in its wisdom, has created a raft of temporary tax breaks for everybody from teachers to banks that make money overseas. Most are really intended to be permanent. But calling them short-term measures tricks the Congressional Budget Office into underestimating how much they cost.
“If you pass a new tax cut, you’ve got to find offsetting spending cuts. But these are in a sense free,” said Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center.

After the election, both parties appeared inclined to just extend all the tax cuts for two years while making principled mumbling about reform down the line.

But then the Koch brothers roared into the picture. They feel that it’s wrong for the government to give a special benefit to an industry that’s one of their competitors. Especially a government that they and their associates devoted nearly $60 million to getting into office. Politico reported that their representatives have been meeting with Speaker Boehner’s staff.

And you know, they have a point. If Congress actually wanted to do serious reform, it should get rid of special tax breaks for the wind and solar energy sectors. While, of course, also removing all the tax breaks for drilling oil.

(click here to continue reading Congress Extends Itself – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 17th, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Fracking rules to be unveiled for Illinois

without comments

Motion is Life
Motion is Life

Great, just great. I guess this is why the Koch Industry was so concerned about Chicago’s attempt to ban petcoke from being stored in the city.

Highly anticipated rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing in Illinois are to be unveiled Friday.

Once the rules go into effect, Illinois hopes to become the center of the next oil boom. Fracking, which involves injecting fluids and chemicals at high volumes to crack open shale rock and unleash oil and natural gas, could bring bring jobs to a struggling southern Illinois economy. Ilinois also is counting on tax revenue on extracted oil and gas to fatten state and county coffers.

A year ago a draft version of the proposed rules proved controversial, drawing about 30,000 comments, mostly from anti-fracking groups who sought to delay the law from taking effect.

Environmental groups claimed the proposed rules written by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources had undermined key provisions of state law dealing with containment of fracking liquids, fines for drillers who violated rules, and emergency situations.

(click here to continue reading Fracking rules to be unveiled Friday – Chicago Tribune.)

and to jog your memory a bit, from last spring:

We’ve had enough petcoke surprises lately in Chicago. Fortunately, the Illinois Pollution Control Board prevented another one last week.

The first surprises were mountains of petcoke — or petroleum coke — that grew as tall as five stories last summer near the Calumet River. The petcoke was generated by an Indiana refinery, and it was transported for storage to Chicago. People who live in the area said the powdery, black dust swirled off the mounds and coated their homes, along with any meals they were barbecuing outside.

In December, Chicago drafted new regulations governing the storage of petcoke, which is a refinery byproduct. Then, on Jan. 13, Gov. Pat Quinn announced his own emergency administrative rules. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency filed the rules late on Jan. 16, and comments were due by Jan 21 at noon. Because the intervening Monday was a holiday, that left just one full business day for research and comments.

Many businesses that have nothing to do with petcoke found some surprises in the rules that they thought would hurt their operations. Some environmentalists, while pleased something was being done, thought the rules didn’t go far enough.

(click here to continue reading For petcoke solutions, look to how state handles fracking – Chicago Sun-Times.)

Let’s rape and pillage our state’s environment so that a few can make profits. Whoo hoo! Earthquakes as a bonus!

Written by Seth Anderson

August 28th, 2014 at 8:22 am

Emanuel ordinance grants exemption for petcoke

without comments

Mayor Emanuel
Mayor Emanuel

Gee, Rahm, did you think that nobody would notice this? Not a good way to win re-election, environmentalists are motivated voters, with long memories…

Faced with public outrage about gritty black dust blowing through Chicago’s Southeast Side, Mayor Rahm Emanuel talked of forcing towering mounds of petroleum coke out of Chicago and outlawing new piles with costly regulations.

But the fine print of a zoning ordinance unveiled Tuesday by the Emanuel administration opens the door for greater use of the high-sulfur, high-carbon refinery byproduct in the city.

Under changes outlined at a hearing of the City Council’s powerful zoning committee, companies would be allowed to store and burn petroleum coke in Chicago if “consumed onsite as part of a manufacturing process.” The special exemption also would allow companies to burn stockpiles of coal.

KCBX Terminals, a company controlled by industrialists Charles and David Koch, already is defending a lawsuit filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan that accuses the company of violating air pollution laws at its facility off Burley Avenue between 108th and 111th streets. Another Madigan lawsuit urges a Cook County judge to cite KCBX for violating water quality and open dumping laws by failing to prevent petcoke and coal from washing into the Calumet River at its 100th Street storage terminal.

A separate state order required Beemsterboer Slag Co. to remove petcoke and coal from its 106th Street storage terminal.

KCBX has a contract to store petcoke generated by the BP refinery just over the Indiana border in Whiting. To process more heavy Canadian tar sands oil, BP recently completed an overhaul of the refinery that will more than triple its output of petcoke to 2.2 million tons a year – a figure Emanuel has frequently cited when vowing to crack down on the dusty piles.

“It’s unfortunate the city is undercutting the mayor’s very clear statements,” said Henry Henderson, a former Chicago environment commissioner who heads the Midwest office of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This is a retreat.”

(click here to continue reading Chicago Tribune – Emanuel ordinance grants exemption for petcoke.)

Presidential Towers with a Benjamin
Presidential Towers with a Benjamin

I wonder if there were any Koch-Dollars involved? Sounds suspiciously like there was some back channels being worked here by somebody…

Yesterday, a hearing on Chicago’s proposed ordinance to ban new and expanded petroleum coke operations gave us a good example of why this town often deserves its international reputation for political shenanigans.

The City Council’s Zoning Committee had set a hearing to move on the ordinance that would significantly restrict transportation, disposal and use of petroleum coke in our communities. Based on weeks of discussions with the City authorities, and the stated goals of the Mayor, everyone thought they were coming to a hearing in the City Council’s zoning committee to weigh in on new rules on the handling and usage of the ashy oil refining waste (as well as coal) which has appeared in massive mounds on the Southeast Side.

But instead, John Pope, sponsor of the ordinance and Alderman of the 10th Ward where the piles reside, tried to pull a switcheroo.

But the Alderman’s new version eliminates the prohibition on petcoke and coal users. That means big facilities that burn the stuff, like cement manufacturers and dirty energy producers, are free to open and expand across many city districts.

Given recent maneuvering in the area, it is likely that he has a couple of users clearly in mind: a cement plant and the formerly aborted Leucadia coal gasification plant.

(click here to continue reading Chicago Petcoke: Alderman’s Shameful Switcheroo Undercuts His Neighbors, the Mayor and the Entire City | Henry Henderson.)

and this tidbit is troubling:

And it opens the door to expansion of the blight. While the oil refining waste has largely been seen along the banks of the Calumet River on the Southeast Side, it is important to remember that there are plenty of other potential destinations in town. In our testimony at the hearing, my colleague Meleah Geertsma noted that under current law, facilities in almost any of Chicago’s “Planned Manufacturing Districts” have the right to bring big piles of petcoke and coal. The City has 15 of these zones, which include places like the Clybourn Corridor, Goose Island, the Chicago/Halsted Corridor, Pilsen and West Pullman.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 3rd, 2014 at 4:59 am

Texas Stringent Voter ID Law Makes a Dent at Polls

without comments

Lamar Street Bridge
Lamar Street Bridge

Democracy in action, Texas style…

First, Judge Sandra Watts was stopped while trying to vote because the name on her photo ID, the same one she had used for voter registration and identification for 52 years, did not exactly match her name on the official voter rolls.  

A few days later, state Senator Wendy Davis, a Democrat who became a national celebrity after her filibuster over a new abortion law, had the same problem in early voting. So did her likely Republican opponent in next year’s governor’s race, Attorney General Greg Abbott.

They were all able to vote after signing affidavits attesting that they were who they claimed to be. But not Jim Wright, a former speaker of the House in Washington, whose expired driver’s license meant he could not vote until he went home and dug a certified copy of his birth certificate out of a box.

On Tuesday, Texas unveiled its tough new voter ID law, the only state to do so this year, and the rollout was sometimes rocky. But interviews with opponents and supporters of the new law, which required voters for the first time to produce a state-approved form of photo identification to vote, suggest that in many parts of the state, the law’s first day went better than critics had expected.

(click here to continue reading Texas’ Stringent Voter ID Law Makes a Dent at Polls – NYTimes.com.)

Looking Down- Texas Capitol Building Austin
Looking Down- Texas Capitol Building Austin

Isn’t it amazing that one of the major political parties in the US would rather have less people vote than do the hard work to convince citizens the political ideas of that party are worth supporting? Or change the doctrines of the political party to comply with the wishes of the voters? The Republicans have spent billions of think-tank dollars figuring out how to disenfranchise as many people as possible instead of taking a chance on democracy.  What does that say about the popularity of Republican doctrines?

And in Texas, this was a relatively minor election with low turnout; most participants were experienced, committed voters, not the casual voters who turn out in presidential and gubernatorial contests. Just wait until there are lines stretched around the block…

The nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Texas, which opposed the new law, said that it was concerned more about voters who do not have the proper documentation at all, and might stay away from the polls altogether as a result.

“We have always felt there was anywhere from 500,000 to 800,000 voters who would not be able to present the proper identification,” Linda Krefting, the group’s president, said. “The concern we have is that all this flap in the news may have discouraged people from turning out at the polls.”

Voter ID laws and other statutes that cut back on early voting or make it more difficult to register have proliferated in states dominated by Republicans since the party’s wave of governor and statehouse victories in 2010.

Proponents say they are needed to curtail voter fraud. Opponents point out that such fraud is extremely rare and say the laws actually target groups that have proven less likely to have the state-mandated identification: the poor, students, African-Americans and Hispanics, all of whom tend to vote more Democratic.

Under the new Texas law, the list of acceptable identification includes a driver’s license, a passport, a military ID and a concealed gun permit, but not a student photo ID. Voters who showed up at the polls with no acceptable IDs were allowed to cast provisional ballots. Voters whose names were “significantly similar” on their IDs and the official voter rolls could sign an affidavit, which involved checking a box next to their name, then were allowed to vote normally.

(click here to continue reading Texas’ Stringent Voter ID Law Makes a Dent at Polls – NYTimes.com.)

If I still lived in Texas, I’d have trouble because my drivers license spells out my middle name and my voter registration card only lists the middle initial. And I would vote Democratic…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Seth Anderson

November 8th, 2013 at 9:33 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Biden phones winner of memorable Coralville election

without comments

Promised For Tuesday
Promised For Tuesday

Sometimes that Koch dollar doesn’t spend as easily as expected. As a follow up to a previous post, turns out Coralville successfully tuned out the Koch agenda…

In a contest that attracted the attention of Vice President Joe Biden and spending by the national conservative group Americans for Prosperity, Coralville’s three incumbent candidates are staying for another term.

Unofficial results Tuesday showed John Lundell winning the mayoral contest and Tom Gill, Bill Hoeft and Laurie Goodrich winning seats on the council in an election with record-breaking turnout.

Shortly after Lundell’s victory became apparent, the City Council member said, he received a surprise phone call from Biden.

“He indicated that he was very proud of our city, that we took on the Koch brothers and successfully beat them by such a huge margin,” Lundell said. “That was another aspect of this election that was unanticipated, that after the polls closed that I’d be speaking to the vice president of the United States.”

(click here to continue reading Biden phones winner of memorable Coralville election | The Des Moines Register | desmoinesregister.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 6th, 2013 at 10:21 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Koch Group Has Ambitions in Small Races

without comments

Thank you for voting
Thank you for voting

Enemies of Democracy, the Koch brothers and the various organizations they fund are trying to influence small scale elections now, elections that you won’t see covered on your cable news shows. Let us hope their schemes fail as more people realize the Koch anti-American agenda. Not holding my breath though. 

The [Koch brothers funded] group, Americans for Prosperity, has jumped into the race to elect Coralville’s next mayor and City Council with an aggressive campaign, mailing fliers, advertising in newspapers, calling voters and knocking on their doors. Its latest leaflet hit mailboxes last week, denouncing the town’s growing debt and comparing it to the financial woes of Detroit. “Coralville is fast becoming Iowa’s version of Detroit,” it read.

Tuesday’s race here is not the only one that has drawn the interest of Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by Charles and David Koch. Local chapters have been involved in property tax fights in Kansas, Ohio and Texas, the group says.

In January, the group successfully fought an increase in a food and beverage tax in Fremont, Neb. And last spring, it opposed a tax increase in Gahanna, in central Ohio. Voters rejected the tax measure in May, but the City Council has put it back on Tuesday’s ballot.

Tim Phillips, the national president of Americans for Prosperity, said the organization could have a real effect on local races, where it does not have to deal with all the Washington special interests.

The main reason “we fight local issue battles is because they result in good policy outcomes, generally promoting economic freedom via less taxes, less government spending,” he said.

(click here to continue reading Koch Group Has Ambitions in Small Races – NYTimes.com.)

General Growth - Blues
General Growth – Blues

They haven’t been welcomed everywhere, for instance in Coralville, Iowa:

But here, in this town of fewer than 20,000 residents, the group has not been so welcome, and the nonpartisan campaign has become an informal referendum on the involvement of outsiders.

Even residents who agree with Americans for Prosperity’s core argument — that the city’s debt is out of control — question the group’s motives for wading into the race. That has forced the candidates who share the group’s beliefs to keep the organization at a distance.

Chris Turner, a first-time candidate for the City Council who has spoken out against the debt, said that although he disagreed with Americans for Prosperity on most issues, he could not seem to catch a break because his campaign platform aligns with the organization.

“Every time I go to a debate or anything, I’ve tried talking about the budget, and then they just go, ‘Koch brothers, Koch brothers, Koch brothers,’ ” he said of his critics, adding that he wished Americans for Prosperity “would just go away.”

One of the central players in the race, a coalition of business leaders called Citizens for Responsible Growth and Taxation, has a large disclaimer on its website that says it is unaffiliated with Americans for Prosperity.

The citizens group, which has given money and advice to candidates it supports, has been criticized because it is unclear who some members are. While most of them are said to own businesses in Coralville, many do not live in the town. The group also has the backing of General Growth Properties, a developer based in Chicago with 123 malls nationwide, including Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville. That is the type of corporate, big-money affiliation that people here say they are uncomfortable seeing in their elections.

General Growth has not contributed money to any candidates in the race, but a spokesman, David Keating, said in a statement that the company “is like many other local businesses and homeowners in Coralville — very concerned about the astronomical levels of debt incurred by the city and the huge property tax hikes that have resulted.”

(click here to continue reading Koch Group Has Ambitions in Small Races – NYTimes.com.)

Why don’t the Koch brothers just take their petcoke and their billions, and purchase an island off the coast of Somalia? They could do whatever they wanted there, and leave the rest of us alone…

Written by Seth Anderson

November 4th, 2013 at 8:36 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with

Launch of Green Tea Coalition Drives a Wedge Through Georgia’s Tea Party

without comments

Morning profits
Morning profits

Merits further attention, especially if replicated in other states besides Georgia…

“The Tea Party has formed an unholy alliance with the left,” Debbie Dooley recalls a panicked member of Georgia’s big energy lobby lamenting. Dooley, a co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots, doesn’t deny the charges. In fact, she is set this Tuesday to celebrate the official launch of the Green Tea Coalition – the same “unholy alliance” of right and left grassroots that has big oil interests reeling.

“It’s an unholy alliance because they see it as a threat to them,” Dooley said, speaking ahead of the launch. “In the past, the elites on both the right and the left got away with it. On the right, they’d say, ‘This person’s on the left. Stay away from them,’ On the left, they’d say, ‘They’re radical, they’re the Tea Party. Stay away from them.’ “But we got through all that bull, got to know each other, and started working together,” she said.

(click here to continue reading Launch of Green Tea Coalition Drives a Wedge Through Georgia’s Tea Party.)

Confessions I See Through To the End
Confessions I See Through To the End

especially because the core truth is that groups like the Koch Brothers do not have the country’s best interest at heart, only in protecting their own financial positions. If they could manipulate working and middle class people into supporting laws that only benefit the 1%, then that is money well spent, for the 1%.

The danger was that conservatives – whose politics have traditionally aligned with the interests of corporate America – would take some of the ideas brewing in the teapot too far. Conservative Americans had begun to wholly embrace the idea that there was such a thing as “crony capitalism,” that certain powerful industries didn’t need to be subsidized for under-performing, or bailed out for failing, and that local and individual autonomy was more important than maintaining the profit structures of big industries.

Those ideas, taken to their logical conclusions, might have led to a conservative revolution that would have severely crippled the power of industries like Koch and Southern Company. The Koch plan, then, was to jump into the fray: a corporate entity hidden among the throngs of one of the largest political movements in decades. On the fertile ground of an emergent movement, Koch would sow their genetically modified seeds of ideology. The idea was to tweak the message of the Tea Party just enough to reroute the movement’s trajectory in such a way that, far from being the bad guys, industrialists could cast themselves as the victims and even allies of average Americans.

“We don’t need taxpayer funded government subsidies and renewable energy mandates,” AFP Georgia wrote in a statement on the Georgia solar plan. “The government has spent $14 billion since 2009 propping up renewable energy projects. They wouldn’t have to do that if the technology was more market ready.”

See? AFP is on the side of the people, standing up against big government subsidies for technology that may not even be ready for prime time. The fact that solar even requires government subsidies proves it isn’t ready, so they claim.

But just don’t expect AFP to apply the same standard to Koch-style industries. Between 1994 and 2009, U.S. oil and gas industries amassed nearly $450 billion in subsidies, compared to a relatively paltry $6 billion for renewable energy over the same period.

And don’t expect AFP to rail against Southern Company’s $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee for its new nuclear projects, either – despite its being the same type of loan granted to solar power company Solyndra, which AFP spent over $8 million to defame between 2011 to 2012.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 13th, 2013 at 9:36 am

IRS Interested In Karl Rove SuperPACs

without comments

Abandon All Chairs Ye Who Enter
Abandon All Chairs Ye Who Enter

Karl Rove is not the evil genius mastermind that his bio claims. He makes mistakes too, and his mistakes are often catastrophic. Let’s hope there is some teeth to this investigation. I’m very curious who donates most of Rove’s money…

A new report from Congress’ nonpartisan research arm (11 page PDF) suggests that the Internal Revenue Service won’t have much patience with the argument from groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS that the ads it buys shouldn’t be counted as political campaign activity.

The claim that ads attacking candidates aren’t political — as long as they avoid words like “vote” or “elect” — is key to the empire of shadowy non-disclosing political groups that Rove, the Koch Brothers and other major political players have created.

By insisting that most of their budget goes toward “issue advocacy,” rather than influencing elections, these groups exploit a loophole that allows certain non-political groups to keep their donors secret.

The Aug. 30 report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), first reported by Diane Freda for Bloomberg BNA, reviews IRS rulings on what qualifies as issue advocacy, and strongly indicates that the Rove-style ads wouldn’t be a tough call for the agency — which could revoke an organization’s tax-exempt status.

For instance, a recent $4.2 million Crossroads GPS ad buy attacked four Democratic Senate candidates, using the figleaf of calling on them to do such things as repeal health care or “cut the debt” — as if there was imminent action about to be taken on the Hill.

The CRS report notes, however, that “when there is no pending legislative vote or other non-electoral activity, the IRS rulings suggest it can be difficult for an ad to avoid being classified as campaign activity.”

Crossroads GPS publicly released its 2010 and 2011 tax filings in April, claiming tax-exempt status as a social welfare group under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code.

But the IRS has not yet approved its status. Should the IRS conclude that the group is primarily political in nature, the results could be politically explosive. Tax experts tell The Huffington Post that political groups that don’t disclose their donations and expenditures to the IRS are subject to a 35 percent penalty on all donations that should have been disclosed but weren’t and another 35 percent for the expenditure of that donation.

So a reclassified group could be on the hook for a 70 percent tax bill — and might have to disclose its donors, to boot.

(click here to continue reading Karl Rove’s Donor Plan Could Run Afoul Of IRS, Congressional Report Suggests.)

There is no excuse for these political hacks claiming non-profit status, it is a mockery of the tax code for “social welfare” organizations.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 1st, 2012 at 8:55 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Kochtopus

with 2 comments

We’ve mentioned The Koch brothers a few times previously. They obviously have too much money, and anything related to their machinations should be noted and publicly discussed.

Pump it

With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

(click to continue reading The billionaire Koch brothers’ war against Obama : The New Yorker.)

Long Cycle of Redemption

And even though we mocked this factoid previously, it bears repeating

Oddly enough, the fiercely capitalist Koch family owes part of its fortune to Joseph Stalin. Fred Koch was the son of a Dutch printer who settled in Texas and ran a weekly newspaper. Fred attended M.I.T., where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. In 1927, he invented a more efficient process for converting oil into gasoline, but, according to family lore, America’s major oil companies regarded him as a threat and shut him out of the industry. Unable to succeed at home, Koch found work in the Soviet Union. In the nineteen-thirties, his company trained Bolshevik engineers and helped Stalin’s regime set up fifteen modern oil refineries. Over time, however, Stalin brutally purged several of Koch’s Soviet colleagues. Koch was deeply affected by the experience, and regretted his collaboration. He returned to the U.S. In the headquarters of his company, Rock Island Oil & Refining, in Wichita, he kept photographs aimed at proving that some of those Soviet refineries had been destroyed in the Second World War. Gus diZerega, a former friend of Charles Koch, recalled, “As the Soviets became a stronger military power, Fred felt a certain amount of guilt at having helped build them up. I think it bothered him a lot.”

In 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover. Members considered President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a Communist agent. In a self-published broadside, Koch claimed that “the Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican Parties.” He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”

and one more factoid I couldn’t let pass in this excellent albeit long, and infuriating article:

During the 2000 election campaign, Koch Industries spent some nine hundred thousand dollars to support the candidacies of George W. Bush and other Republicans. During the Bush years, Koch Industries and other fossil-fuel companies enjoyed remarkable prosperity. The 2005 energy bill, which Hillary Clinton dubbed the Dick Cheney Lobbyist Energy Bill, offered enormous subsidies and tax breaks for energy companies. The Kochs have cast themselves as deficit hawks, but, according to a study by Media Matters, their companies have benefitted from nearly a hundred million dollars in government contracts since 2000.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 23rd, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Ultimate Tea Party Irony

with one comment

All the Tea Party’s accusations of Obama being Marxist have to be viewed in a different light now that the truth of their origins comes out1

Lifes short enough to remain optimistic

The Tea Party movement’s dirty little secret is that its chief financial backers owe their family fortune to the granddaddy of all their hatred: Stalin’s godless empire of the USSR. The secretive oil billionaires of the Koch family, the main supporters of the right-wing groups that orchestrated the Tea Party movement, would not have the means to bankroll their favorite causes had it not been for the pile of money the family made working for the Bolsheviks in the late 1920s and early 1930s, building refineries, training Communist engineers and laying down the foundation of Soviet oil infrastructure.

The comrades were good to the Kochs. Today Koch Industries has grown into the second-largest private company in America. With an annual revenue of $100 billion, the company was just $6.3 billion shy of first place in 2008. Ownership is kept strictly in the family, with the company being split roughly between brothers Charles and David Koch, who are worth about $20 billion apiece and are infamous as the largest sponsors of right-wing causes. They bankroll scores of free-market and libertarian think tanks, institutes and advocacy groups. Greenpeace estimates that the Koch family shelled out $25 million from 2005 to 2008 funding the “climate denial machine,” which means they outspent Exxon Mobile three to one.

I first learned about the Kochs in February 2009, when my colleague Mark Ames and I were looking into the strange origins of the then-nascent Tea Party movement. Our investigation led us again and again to a handful of right-wing advocacy groups directly tied to the Kochs. We were the first to connect the dots and debunk the Tea Party movement’s “grassroots” front, exposing it as billionaire-backed astroturf campaign run by free-market advocacy groups FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity, both of which are closely linked to the Koch brothers.

But the Tea Party movement—and the Koch family’s obscene wealth—go back more than half a century, all the way to grandpa Fred C. Koch, one of the founding members of the far-right John Birch Society which was convinced that socialism was taking over America through unions, colored people, Jews, homosexuals, the Kennedys and even Dwight D. Eisenhower.

[Click to continue reading Yasha Levine: Tea Party Financiers Owe Their Fortune to Josef Stalin – Truthdig]

Too funny. Well, not really. I think the Tea Party Republicans2 should leave America since they hate it so much.

Footnotes:
  1. or at least their largest corporate sponsor []
  2. and are there really any others? I’d say the Tea Baggers are just a rebranding of the Republican Party []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 20th, 2010 at 3:09 pm