“Bartender, make it a double Koch.”
The Koch Brothers, Wilbur Koch and Orville Koch, are the subversive powers behind the Republican throne (although it has now been years since any member of the Republican Party got near any significant throne, aside from Larry "Wide Stance" Craig). Republican Party biographer George Soros has called the Koch Brothers "the party's main source of dirty money" and notes that the Party has steadfastly refused his offers to give it a discreet laundering. He has said, "The Party won't even let me wash its mouth out with soap."
The Koch Brothers own and operate America's second largest, and most secretive, privately-held corporation, Koch Enterprises. It is the nation's primary bottler of Koch-a Coal-a (as their father, from the Old Country, refers to the product). President Barack Obama has stated, "Whatever it is that they do, I support a single-payer system for all of it." That would put the Koch Brothers out of business and may be the source of their notorious work in conservative, libertarian, and anti-Obama political organizations and think tanks.
Wilbur Koch was the Libertarian candidate for Vice President in 1980. He advocated the abolition of the FBI, the CIA, the public schools, and the states of New York, New Jersey, and California to boot. He and his Presidential running mate Timothy Leary received the highest Libertarian vote total ever, though he probably bought those votes, as no large political party would ever consider doing. However, the effort soured him. "The American people don't want a Vice President; they want a guy to put on firefighter hats and do photo-ops," he said, espousing the same reluctance that in turn torpedoed the 2008 campaign of Fred Thompson. Wilbur ceased to be a candidate and instead has bankrolled other people who were gullible enough to take out the petitions themselves, and who look good wearing other people's hats when they do campaign stunts. Wilbur doesn't kiss babies either, though there is no evidence anyone wants him to.
Orville Koch, by comparison, started as a money bundler and simply stayed there. After his brother ran for office, Orville became more disillusioned, and said, "Politics is such a corrupting business. Being in the business of corrupting politicians is relatively pure."
Both brothers, through their mysterious, shadowy organizations, recruit and mentor young libertarians, put on plush banquets with rubber chickens at which economists talk about public policy issues, and send three or four virtually identical postcards per week to every registered Republican in the political "battleground states."
The earliest brainchild of the Koch Brothers (the brains in question being those green-backed ones on which they sit) is the Cato Institute. Prior to 1976, it had been known as the Caligula Institute, as it espouses debauchery in office amid official disinterest. The Cato Institute was the fifth-ranked think tank in the world, in a 2009 study of think tanks by James G. McGann, Ph.D., based on the amount of thinking plus the amount of tanking.
The Cato Institute publishes numerous policy studies and briefing papers, which are equally at home in the book rack beside the toilet and aside the night light on the headboard of the bed. Cato scholars also write books that are published by outside publishers (though all are currently out of print), as a handful of their Congressional adversaries likewise have something on the outside resembling a life.
The Cato Institute has been regarded as a standard-bearer of the U.S. conservative political movement, and Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater were influenced by it (back when the party had standards and not merely a TARP). The Institute itself disclaims this label, and indeed the motley progression of snake oil salesman turning up on ballots just beneath the elephant has led the Cato Institute to be viewed not as defenders of one party but as critics of just about anyone.
Americans For Prosperity (AFP)
In 2004 (net of several strategic name-changes), the Koch Brothers founded Americans for Prosperity. The only comparable group affiliated with the Democratic Party is the notorious Americans for Poverty and Squalor.
Since the founding, the brothers have funneled an obviously excessive amount of money into AFP. At an AFP rally in 2009, Orville said, "My brother and I provided over a million dollars to this organization, and it is astounding to see that it has become a million-dollar organization."
The Koch Brothers contribute to, or sit on the boards of, many other organizations, personifying in each case a stock reason for the Democratic Party to vilify the organization. Indeed, after a Democrat runs out of legitimate rebuttals, it always works splendidly to call his adversary a sockpuppet of the Koch Brothers.
The Citizens United Decision
The springboard for the Koch Brothers foxes to ascend the guard tower of the Congressional hen-house was the 2010 Citizens United decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government had no basis to keep someone from making a movie, even a movie about Hillary Clinton, even one that showed her puffy ham hocks without covering. The government said the ruling held that "corporations are people," and though Mr. Obama that month told Congress that it would "open the floodgates," what spewed forth was not ravaging rainwater nor even additional Hillary porn but junk mail, a new generation of junk mail without even the decency to include free samples of fabric softener. American postal customers were left helpless against this rising tide, as a remedy is now unconstitutional unless some extreme rhetorical cleverness can be found — and soon after Citizens United, the nation's entire supply of such tricks was spent arguing that Obamacare was legal.
Success across the board
“There is no problem with the GOP that a few lines of Koch couldn't fix.”
The Koch Brothers' use of unregulated, undisclosed money to secretly bankroll supposedly independent organizations has given them unprecedented influence over the United States Government. In particular:
- Patients United Now advocated against a single-payer health-care system in the United States, making Obamacare seem like a kindly and moderate alternative.
- Citizens for a Sound Economy has advocated free-market reforms. As well as letting Obama argue that George W. Bush ushered in an era of banking anarchy, this group has succeeded with much legislation (in filing it, not passing it). The resulting U.S. economy is sounder than ever, at least compared to Greece and Spain.
- Americans for Prosperity (see above) in the 2012 election taught Republicans the exact limitations on a carpet-bombing direct-mail campaign to preach to the choir in support of a courtly old rich guy who couldn't remember what his message was nor tell anyone how it would work.
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group of Republican legislators supported by the Koch Brothers that met and compared notes to ensure that their work in different states wasn't completely at cross purposes, drew such flak as to give even Walmart cold feet about backing it.
Social critics have noted that consumers are unaware that, in every purchase of a product from Koch Enterprises, some of the money paid is surreptitiously diverted to political activism. They note that a consumer who wanted this to happen would join a labor union instead.
In an article in the August 30, 2010 issue of Mother Doobie, acknowledged expert Jane Mayer argued:
|“||The Koch Brothers believe in drastically lower taxes, minimal social services, and less oversight of industry. Obviously, their only possible motive is hatred, they intend for hunger and disease to become epidemic, and they stand to benefit personally from the policies they advocate. Also, they are in climate science denial. 'Nuff said, really.||”|
To be entirely fair, several scruffy libertarians have taken issue with Ms. Mayer, arguing that not everything the Koch Brothers do is evil, and that the proof that the Koch Brothers are merely pursuing personal profit is not airtight.
Old libertarians do die, and after they "just fade away," mostly involving the funerals of other old libertarians. The crotchety survivors cope with these tragedies in two ways:
- Getting a court order directing the transfer to them of the shares of the deceased in certain prominent think tanks; or
- Getting a court order that the think tanks of the deceased cease to claim any association with the deceased.
The wheels of justice turn slowly, but surely the Koch Brothers were on track to eventually own a controlling stake in every think tank in the world, putting all thought under their clandestine control.
Unfortunately for him, on August 23, 2019, one of the Koch Brothers — their secretive lives do not let us discern which — did both just fade away and die.
- Technically, one is, and one was; not intending to give away the ending.
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