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REPORT: How Koch Industries Makes Billions Corrupting Government And Polluting For Free (Part 2)

Think Progress- By Lee Fang on Mar 1st, 2011 at 7:00 pm

In an opinion piece published today responding to his critics, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch promised to continue to finance anti-government, right-wing front groups. Charles writes that the “purpose of business is to efficiently convert resources into products and services that make people’s lives better.” But when it comes to Koch’s carcinogenic pollution and carbon emissions, the purpose of Koch’s political giving is to avoid any financial responsibility — no matter who gets hurt. Koch Industries has cornered the market in monetizing some of the most dirty industrial businesses. Koch imports oil from the Middle East, refines high-carbon Canadian crude, maintains coal-burning plants, owns one of the largest oil pipeline networks in America, runs environmentally hazardous lumber mills, produces toxic chemicals, and manufacturers fertilizer. The University of Masschusetts Amherst has scored Koch as among the top ten worst air polluters for its carcinogenic chemicals.

Much of the entire Koch political machine is geared towards ensuring that Koch Industries never has to compensate the people and ecosystems damaged by Koch Industries pollution. Koch front groups — from Tea Party groups to think tanks — have diligently promoted Koch Industries’ bottom line by denying global warming, fighting regulations on Koch’s cancer-causing chemicals, and snuffing out investigations into Koch’s environmental crimes:

In 1990, as both Republicans and Democrats proposed a cap and trade system to address acid rain, Koch financed a front group called “Concerned Citizens for the Environment” to battle proposed regulations. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the group “has no citizen membership of its own,” but produced studies arguing that acid rain was a myth and that deregulation would benefit the environment. Koch refineries and factories, top emitters of acid rain-causing toxins, were impacted by the successful cap and trade system. A front group founded by David Koch, Citizens for a Sound Economy (which later changed its name to Americans for Prosperity), also battled regulations designed to combat acid rain, labeling the problem a “myth.”

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Why Do Americans Keep Getting Suckered By Right-Wing Lies?


Until progressives change the mind sets of the tens of millions who believe right-wing mythology, elections will be disappointing regardless of who is in the White House.
November 21, 2010 |

Ideas don’t happen on their own. Throughout history ideas need patrons.” —Matt Kibbe, president of Freedom-Works, a tea party advocacy group, quoted in Jane Mayer’s piece on the Koch brothers in The New Yorker.

Almost half of the public is either misinformed or subject to unanswered right wing narratives. If I believed that there was a chance of Sharia law being imposed in the United States I too would be gravely concerned. If I believed that most Europeans and Canadians had inferior health care to that of average Americans, I too would be against health care reform. If I believed that man-made global warning did not exist or that there were nothing we could do about it and that environmental efforts were responsible for unemployment I’d be against cap and trade. If I believed that prisoner abuse would make my family significantly less likely to be killed by terrorists, my thinking about torture would be different. And if I believed that the problems with the economy had been caused by too much government instead of too little, that my personal freedom was threatened by the government instead of large corporations, I’d probably be in a tea party supporter and a Republican.

Unless and until progressives change the mind sets of the tens of millions of people who believe right-wing mythology, who never read the New York Times or listen to NPR, who never watch any TV news other than Fox, future elections will have disappointing results for progressives regardless of who is in the White House.

Even Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have limits to their ability to de-program those who have been indoctrinated by conservative orthodoxy. As David Bromwich recently wrote in New York Review of Books, “You can learn from them why the wrong ideas are funny, but you cannot learn why the wrong ideas are wrong.”

Changing minds is more of an art than a science. Polling and focus groups are reasonably accurate at determining how people already feel, but the idea that every message to educate or convert can be mathematically tested is illusory. Even more dangerous is the notion that public opinion somehow comes from the sky and is thus impossible to influence. The right wing knows better.

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How Right-Wing Billionaires and Business Propaganda Got Us into the Economic Mess of the Century

Holland’s new book shows how the corporate Right obscured how they’ve rigged the “free market” so they always come out on top.
September 15, 2010 |

Editor’s note: AlterNet is proud to present this excerpt from senior writer Joshua Holland’s new book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies about the Economy (And Everything Else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know about Taxes, Jobs, and Corporate America). Holland’s research-rich but entertainingly written book slices and dices the latest talking points, explaining the issues with depth and nuance. The book tells an important story about the American economy that you won’t read in the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal. It’s one that is vitally important to understand as we grapple with some new economic realities. It’s a story about how the corporate Right has obscured the ways in which they’ve rigged the “free market” so they always come out on top. Ultimately, it goes a long way toward explaining how so few Americans noticed as a new Gilded Age emerged under a haze of lies, half-truths and distortions.

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The Great Recession that began in 2008 wiped out $13 trillion in Americans’ household wealth —in home values and stocks and bonds—stoking the kind of anger we’ve seen from pissed off progressives and from the Tea Partiers who dominated the news in the summer of 2009.

But although a lot of people threw around some angry rhetoric—and even invoked the specter of armed revolution—the reality is that when the economy nosedived, we basically took it. We didn’t riot; we took the bailouts, tolerated our stagnant wages, and accepted that Washington wasn’t about to give struggling families any real relief.

Yet the meltdown was global in nature, and it’s worth noting that citizens of other wealthy countries weren’t so complacent. As the Telegraph, a British tabloid, reported, “A depression triggered in America is being played out in Europe with increasing violence, and other forms of social unrest are spreading. In Iceland, a government has fallen. Workers have marched in Zaragoza, as Spanish unemployment heads toward 20 percent. There have been riots and bloodshed in Greece, protests in Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and Bulgaria. The police have suppressed public discontent in Russia.” Another British paper, the Guardian, reported scenes of “Burned-out cars, masked youths, smashed shop windows and more than a million striking workers” in France. French officials went so far as to delay the release of unemployment data, “apparently for fear of inflaming the protests.”

You might wonder why Americans are so docile compared to others in the face of such a brutal economic onslaught by a small and entitled elite. Any number of theories have been offered to explain the apparent disconnect. Thomas Frank argued eloquently in his book What’s the Matter with Kansas? that wedge social issues—“God, guns and gays”—that the American Right nurtures with such care, obscure the fundamental differences between rich and poor, the powerful and the disenfranchised. Class consciousness, common to other liberal democracies, has been trumped by social anxieties, according to Frank.

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Days of Rage — The Noxious Transformation of the Conservative Movement into a Rabid Fringe

Crusading to restore a holy social order, Tea Partiers have promoted disorder. Claiming to protect democracy, they smashed windows of elected representatives.

August 10, 2010 |

Editor’s Note: The following is the new epilogue from Max Blumenthal’s book, Republic Gomorrah, now out in paperback (Basic/Nation Books, 2009).

“He will tell you that he wants a strong authority to take from him the crushing responsibility of thinking for himself. Since the Republic is weak, he is led to break the law out of love for obedience. But is it really strong authority that he wishes? In reality he demands rigorous order for others, and for himself disorder without responsibility.” — Jean-Paul Sartre, “Anti-Semite and Jew”

I am not sure when I first detected the noxious fumes that would envelop the conservative movement in the Obama era. It might have been early on, in April 2009, when I visited a series of gun shows in rural California and Nevada. Perusing tables piled high with high-caliber semi-automatic weapons and chatting with anyone in my vicinity, I heard urgent warnings of mass roundups, concentration camps, and a socialist government in Washington. “These people that are purchasing these guns are people that are worried about what’s going on in this country,” a gun dealer told me outside a show in Reno. “Good luck Obama,” a young gun enthusiast remarked to me. “We outnumber him 100 to 1.” At this time, the Tea Party movement had not even registered on the national media’s radar.

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Glenn Beck Is Afraid George Soros Will Kill Him. No, seriously.

Crooks & Liars- By karoli Tuesday Jun 22, 2010 8:00am

Alternative Title: Glenn Beck descends further into paranoid delusion.

BECK: Gasoline Brazil. Now why am I telling you about this? Have you heard of another word? Soros. George Soros. I do have a bulletproof car, George. I just want you to know.

George Soros — I’m going to show you this tonight. I’m going to spend an hour on this. I want you to DVD, write down, take notes, look into this. We’re going to be talking a little bit about this in the next few days. This is — I like to call it the circle of life, as it is now understood in America.

As a relative newcomer to the crazy that is the far right wing, I do not now, nor am I likely to ever understand the obsession they have with George Soros.

The right wing non-profit money machine outspends progressive non-profits by amounts in the billions. What Soros spends in a year on American politics is a big zero. Yet FreedomWorks grinds more tea in our face every day with full-throated (and walleted) support from the right.

There was a time in this country where people as paranoid and self-focused as Glenn Beck were placed in a room with padding and round corners until the meds took hold.

Now they go on national television. Rupert Murdoch’s epitaph should read “He mainstreamed crazy.”

h/t: Media Matters

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The president wrapped up his address Tuesday night by asking Americans to pray for the victims — both human and environmental — of the BP oil spill. I thought it was a strange way to end his first Oval Office address during a national emergency insofar as praying makes the situation appear too big for conventional solutions. As though all that remains between us and a sea of oil is the Hail Mary.

This morning it occurred to me that this was the only thing he could really ask Americans to do.

Why? Simply stated, it doesn’t require any effort to silently invoke spirituality while stopped at a traffic signal or while chewing a gluttonous mouthful of Double Down. Actually, I take back that second part. I can’t imagine doing anything other than suffering a massive infarction while eating a Double Down.

Instead of prayer, the president could have asked us all to make sacrifices towards the goal of weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Maybe he should have asked for sacrifice. It probably wouldn’t have hurt. But it would have been mostly ignored.

Americans simply don’t do “national sacrifice” anymore. During World War II, Americans were asked to ration everything from sugar to oil to cheese — even shoes. Those days are long gone. Today, we’re asked to go to Disneyland or the beach. Or we’re asked to pray. (It’s difficult to imagine the modern right-wing, for example, accepting the rationing of anything at the behest of the current president when most of them refuse to fill out a U.S. Census form. More on that presently.)

The BP oil spill has been a daily reminder of our toxic relationship with decomposed dinosaurs. On just about every blog and every cable news show, we’ve watched in shock-horror as 75,000,000 gallons of oil spew from the top of the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer. We see it. We cringe. Some of us shout, “Why, oh, why?!” Others curse Tony Hayward and BP. Maybe some of us curse President Obama or former President Bush. A clear majority of Americans are pissed off, and they’re taking it out on everyone except themselves: the ones actually buying the oil.

Once we’re exhausted with blaming and yelling, we climb into our oversized cars, crank up the air conditioner, drive to Burger King and order a ammonia-washed beef sandwich the size of a baby — while mindlessly idling at the drive-thru.

As the president pointed out last night, scientists, experts and politicians alike have been urging us to make the transition to clean energy and away from fossil fuels. In the last ten years alone, we’ve endured the largest terrorist attack on our soil and subsequently fought two wars, all prompted by American intrusions into the Middle East to satisfy our collective petro fix.

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How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane

For huge numbers of dedicated right-wing Americans, November 5, 2008, was the end of the world. Or at least, the end of America as they knew it.

May 26, 2010 |

The following is adapted from “Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane,” due out next month from PoliPoint Press.

On the day Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, much of the nation — particularly those who supported and voted for him — celebrated the election of the first African American to the country’s highest office. For those who voted for his opponent, John McCain, there was naturally the usual bitterness and disappointment.

Among a certain subset of those Americans, however — especially those who opposed Obama precisely because he sought to become the nation’s first black president — it went well beyond the usual despair. For them, November 5, 2008, was the end of the world. Or at least, the end of America as they knew it.

So maybe it wasn’t really a surprise that they responded that day with the special venom and violence peculiar to the American Right. Like the noose strung in protest from a tree limb in Texas.

Students at Baylor University in Waco discovered the noose hanging from a campus tree the evening of election day, near a site where angry Republican students had gathered Obama yard signs and burned them in a big bonfire. That same evening, a riot nearly broke out when Obama supporters, chanting the new president’s name, were confronted outside a residence hall by white students who told them: “Any nigger who walks by Penland [Hall], we’re going to kick their ass, we’re going to jump him.” The Obama supporters stopped and responded, “Excuse me?” — and somehow managed to keep the confrontation confined to a mere shouting match until police arrived and broke things up.

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During yesterday’s Glenn Beck radio show, Beck delivered a 10-minute monologue in which he hit all of his phony-baloney touchstones — some of them, as I’ve been writing for the last several weeks, are dangerous and some are simply ridiculous. But primarily, Beck was in full televangelist mode about God and something about a “plan” and, in the process, he dovetailed into a little McCarthyism and, as usual, a little historical revisionism. He even shrunk into a defensive bit refuting the accusations that he’s a faker who’s conning his audience.

Now, before you listen to this epic clip courtesy of Media Matters, I should warn you to turn down your speakers, because the over-the-top levels of audio compression and EQ on Beck’s voice (say nothing of the half-dozen or so Beck sound-alikes who also occupy his studio) will absolutely blow out your speakers.

Most radio stations employ some sort of digital processing to make the host or disc jockey sound more resonant, but I’ve never heard a talk show with this much compression. Clearly, the BOOM! is there to enhance Beck’s voice in a way that augments his level of psychological persuasion — the deeper, diaphragm-vibrating low end increases the physical connection between Beck and his audience. A more subconscious aspect of his scam.

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The overarching theme of this monologue is that God is speaking directly to Glenn Beck and giving him the plan. It’s classic televangelism, which is commonly seen as nothing more than an exploitation of religious naiveté with the goal of making the televangelist rich. Listen to me. I have the answers. Because God is speaking to me. So give generously if you want to hear what God’s plan is.

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How Glenn Beck Helps Violent Right-Wing Militias

April 7, 2010 |

Glenn Beck has done more than any other person to amplify and mainstream the movement’s hateful and foreboding anti-government message.

Reading last week’s disturbing news accounts about the Midwestern arrest of nine alleged members of a Christian militia known as the Hutaree, a group whose members were reportedly planning to kill cops in order to spark a wider, armed revolt against the U.S. government, I noticed this nugget [emphasis added]:

FBI agents moved quickly against Hutaree because its members were planning an attack sometime in April, prosecutors said.

My hunch is the self-described “warriors” of the Hutaree probably circled April 19 on their calendars for any cop-killing fantasy they might have planned to pull off. Why April 19? That was the day, 17 years ago, when the FBI staged its final failed assault on cult leader David Koresh’s heavily armed compound in Waco, Texas. It was on April 19, 1993, following a 51-day siege, that Koresh’s fanatical followers, rather than surrendering to authorities, staged mass suicides (and, in some cases, executions) as the compound burned to the ground.

Precisely two years later, on April 19, 1995, right-wing zealot Timothy McVeigh commemorated the Waco inferno by declaring war on the federal government and blowing up his rented Ryder truck outside of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. McVeigh’s act of far-right radical terrorism sheared the north side off the Murrah Building, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds more. (“I reached the decision to go on the offensive — to put a check on government abuse of power,” McVeigh later wrote.)

April 19 remains an almost mythical date among dedicated government haters. It’s a date that lives in infamy as proof of the dark consequences of when a tyrannical government (run by Democrats) turns on its own.

So yeah, as the Hutaree gun nuts allegedly plotted in the woods of Michigan on the best way to kill cops, pieced together their seditious plans to wage war on the U.S. government, and planned their upcoming confrontation with the Antichrist, I’m guessing the landmark militia day of April 19 loomed large.

For anyone who thought the dark, Waco-fueled chapter of domestic extremism in this country was behind us, the Hutaree arrests were a jarring reminder that, with the election of another Democratic president, the violent militia message is back.

And it’s stronger than ever.

Not only have the number of radical-right extremist groups exploded in the wake of President Obama’s election (more than 500 today, as compared to just 200 during the 1990s), but these militia members now have a proud sponsor in the person of Fox News’ Glenn Beck, who has done more than any other person to amplify and mainstream the movement’s hateful and foreboding anti-government message. Beck continues to give a voice, and national platform, to the same deranged, hard-core militia haters and self-style “patriots” who hounded the new, young Democratic president in the early 1990s in the wake of Waco.

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Will Fox News Destroy the Republican Party?

Fox news realizes that the best way to defend right-wing victories is to keep American politics in a state of chaos, with tea parties and fresh social outrages at every turn.
April 4, 2010 |

Over the past week or so, stories about conservative hypocrisies have been popping up in mainstream media like cute kitten videos on the internets. There was the Vatican blaming the news media for the pedophilia practiced by priests; the Republicans blaming the violence against Democrats on the Democrats themselves; Sarah Palin, intoning that “violence isn’t the answer,” studding a map with gunsights to target the Dems who should be gotten rid of come November; and, of course, fundraisers for the family values party trying to expense-account their visit to that faux-lesbian, bondage-themed nightclub in West Hollywood. It almost made you think the conservative movement was about to collapse under the weight of its own delusions.

But then the cable ratings came out and showed that Fox News had had its best quarter ever, and that it’s the second most-watched cable channel in prime time, right after USA Network.

And that made me think of another recent story, the purge of former Bush speechwriter David Frum from the American Enterprise Institute, largely for delivering quotes like this: “The Republicans originally thought that Fox works for us, and now we’re discovering we work for Fox. The balance here has been completely reversed, and the thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican Party.”

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