Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, October 29, 2012

Subverting Democracy

There is an amazing interview with Greg Palast at, in which he describes some of the fanatical Koch family's history of subverting democracy. Palast describes how "Charles Koch personally ordered the pilfering of oil" royalties from Native Americans.

But the most interesting thing was my question: why? He was already a multibillionaire at the time. And so the amount of oil being stolen, you have to understand, is a few hundred bucks from a family from each of these native families, and they get some royalties. I said, why, but one of his executives asked the same question, why. And we know his answer because his executives were wired. And on the tape he said, I want my fair share, and that's all of it. This is the Koch brothers.

Their father was multi-millionaire Fred Koch, one of the founders of the John Birch Society, who became terrified of communism while working in Russia. His fear became fanaticism.

He claimed that the Democratic and Republican Parties were infiltrated by the Communist Party, and he supported Mussolini's suppression of communists. He wrote that "The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America," and that "Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment a vicious race war." [19]

And he raised his children to be fanatical as well, in their own way. This world belongs to the strong, the wealthy. They own it, they want it, and they will get what they want, because nothing will stop them. Palast says that the law does not stop them because they have the laws rewritten to benefit themselves. The law belongs to them, it is their weapon and the source of much of their power. It is a terrible mistake to ignore violations of the rule of law that do not affect you. Those violations are warning signs of what is to come, the proverbial canary in the coal mine.

If your friends are violating the law and getting away with it, just imagine how much more your enemies are violating the law and getting away with it. But the two groups must turn a blind eye to each other so they can continue their once-illegal practices, so Obama refuses to prosecute Republicans for their crimes and Republicans pretend that Obama is their ideological enemy.  That giant hue and cry over socialism neatly prevented conservatives from observing that Obama was helping Wall Street over Main Street.

At that point [2010], there was this little group called Citizens United, which somehow hired the most expensive lawyer in the United States, Ted Olsen, to argue their case at the Supreme Court. But no one asked, how did they get Ted Olsen? He didn't volunteer. He was given leave from his day job as general counsel for Koch Industries. So Koch Industries, this was the way that Koch Industries—.

JAY: Which frees the Koch Brothers, in this election, to spend whatever they want.

PALAST: Right. And not only that, but (very important) it decriminalized their prior behavior. The Kochs were always giving money through Koch Industries, but it was criminal. They just decriminalized it. So it's not just what they could do now, but that they got away with their—basically, any attempt at bringing them to justice before.

And I want to give credit to a Republican senator, Fred Thompson—remember Mr. Law and Order, the guy who plays a federal prosecutor on Law and Order? As you'll see in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Fred Thompson wanted to blow the whistle on the Koch brothers, even though he was a Republican, 'cause I guess he took playing the part of a prosecutor kind of seriously, right? And he was told by Trent Lott, then the senator, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, back off, and his investigation was shut down. And why didn't the Democrats, who knew all about it, scream bloody murder?

JAY: Yeah, why?

PALAST: One did, and it's ["dik@n'sini], but they got—he told me the Koch brothers got him. That's when the Keating Five—he was smeared. And he said the Koch brothers were behind him losing his seat, 'cause he wanted to bring up this issue. But Fred Thompson, a Republican, shut it down.

And the Democrats didn't complain, because it was a trade, it was a deal, as you'll read—and true-blue democrats might be upset to hear this, but Bill Clinton apparently had taken not a small amount of change from his billionaires, called the Riady family. They're not American citizens. He met 95 times with them in the White House. That means he met with Chinese billionaires more often than his own daughter, Chelsea. And he—apparently, money went into the Clinton campaign and other favors were done by the Riadys, big favors for the Clintons. That's a real impeachable offense. Forget the stains-on-dresses stuff. This was really impeachable. And Trent Lott told Senator Thompson, we don't do the Riadys and Clinton, and they don't do the Kochs. So it was a billionaire trade. And that's how the game's played.

JAY: Okay. More of this is all in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits. And if you want to get more detail on this and much more like it, it's in the book.

People tell themselves that things won't get worse, that they have a president on their side who will hear their concerns and act on them, that they can work from inside to change the establishment. But it's too late. They refused to admit that their leaders were typical authoritarian leaders who believe that they do not have to follow the rules, have no empathy for anyone not like them, and will not stop their endless grab for more power. Power is a verb. It is an action. To truly have power you must use it, see it in action, inflict it on those weaker than you, who are everyone else in your kingdom. You must make others suffer to prove that you have all the power. The suffering of the poor is music to your ears, because it means you are superior, you are rewarded by God, you are one of the chosen ones, you are worthy and everyone else is not.

The poor and middle class let themselves be mistreated, which proves that they are weak and therefore immoral, since immorality is a sign of human weakness and the legacy of Original Sin. Suffering is pleasing to God, encourages morality, is a sign of obedience. It is a very, very good thing, and Koch Industries is here to make sure that good things happen to everyone.

Especially the Koches. They want it all, it belongs to them. The workers and the rivers, the fields and the politicians, the money and the power. They took billions from the 90% and they will take billions from the 9%.

You? You're just in the way.

Read the rest.

Via Naked Capitalism


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

People tell themselves that things won't get worse, that they have a president on their side who will hear their concerns and act on them...

In spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

Susan of Texas said...

There is no evidence to the contrary unless they say there is. Sure, Obama refused to prosecute Wall Street and helped income inequality grow tremendously, with 93% of gains going into the 1%, but Lily Ledbetter lengthened the deadline for suing against pay discrimination, so Obama should be elected. When you can form this train of thought, ignoring the truth is easy.

Most people want us to drop bombs via drones on Pakiistanis--they are trying to kill us, right? Or at least wish us death. So, all's fair. They feel powerful when their leader shows his power.

Oh, I've said it all a thousand times and about ten people care. Most people read me because it was fun to hear mean things about their enemies but they don't want to hear what I actually had to say. They wanted to hear about the right's authoritarianism, not their own. But it's always been an authoritarian thing, not just a liberal thing, for me.

Present company excepted, of course. You have not given up your principles.

Substance McGravitas said...

People like to think that the guy they vote for shouldn't be in jail. It's pretty human.

Anonymous said...

They wanted to hear about the right's authoritarianism, not their own.

This is true.

I think for a lot of them, the idea that there *could* be authoritarianism on the left was a non sequitur. Greenwald said a lot of those people would be quiet when Obama did the same things that Bush did - I believe his specific example was the abuse of the surveillance state - and everyone said oh no, not us. Besides, Obama would never do that.

Guess Glenn was right, at least about that.

Still, I'm voting for Obama, not because I approve of everything he's done, but because I live in Florida and I have no desire to live through an updated replay of what happens when you heighten the contradictions. Either Romney or Obama will win. I have a preference between the two (even though my absolute preference would be something else entirely), and I'm gonna vote that way.

I have no beef with people who won't, at least if they're not in a competitive state. And if they are, I would politely urge them to reconsider. But beyond that, well, we have to live with our own choices, and it's not for me to tell someone else what he or she should be comfortable living with.

- spencer

Susan of Texas said...

I live in Texas and my vote would not count either way.

I'm more concerned with what people do after the election than who they vote for. People who make excuses for their president will not force him to be more liberal.

Substance, they seem to be fine with Obama's guilt. Even when they acknowledge that he breaks the law, they seem to think it's his right.

They don't want him to lose.

VCarlson said...

I voted for Obama in 2008 with reservations, because I have a nasty, suspicious mind. Turns out I wasn't quite nasty or suspicious enough. This year, I'm voting Jill Stein. I'm in HI. Not only is it unlikely to not go Obama, the election will probably be effectively iver by he time I vote.

Anonymous said...

People who make excuses for their president will not force him to be more liberal.

Absolutely right. And way too fucking common.

- spencer

Downpuppy said...

The path to empowerment isn't through electoral politics - like duh. It's through economic power. What the Kochs have taken can be reclaimed by the workers.

OK, this still feels like an underpants gnome joke, but somewhere along the line the combined power of the working masses has to count for something, no?

Susan of Texas said...

They are afraid of the masses and their fear gives us power. Money can do almost anything but it can't control chaos. The randomness of the terrorist attacks, the DC anthrax, the DC highway sniper all frightened them. They seek control to eliminate this fear.

We need to boycott all Koch products, no matter how difficult it is. It will harm the workers there so we need to set up aid for them. We need to pool our resources when necessary.

But what remains of the middle class still has hope that this all will just go away by itself. They still think imitating the upper classes will gain them admittance to the upper class. That is still true for some people but depressing wages and therefore mobility is a major goal for the elite.

nate said...

Dammit, does Tbogg have to do another post with My Little Ponies and rainbows to convince you to get on the Obama bandwagon?

Private Joker: I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.
Pogue Colonel: The what?
Private Joker: The duality of man. The Jungian thing, sir.
Pogue Colonel: Whose side are you on, son?
Private Joker: Our side, sir.
Pogue Colonel: Don't you love your country?
Private Joker: Yes, sir.
Pogue Colonel: Then how about getting with the program? Why don't you jump on the team and come on in for the big win?
Private Joker: Yes, sir.

VCarlson said...

WRT boycotting Koch products, a quick search turns up lists, but as points out on their Koch products list, since they're basically into oil, many of their businesses are making materials other businesses use to make their products.

So not just boycotting heir products, but pointing out, as often as possible, how very much money they're spending - successfully - to buy influence, to game the system ever more in heir favor and against just about everyone else, and how much of their products are a part of our daily lives, whether we want them or not.

They really do live lives apart. Longlong ago, I worked as a librarian for Exxon. We got a tour of their temporary HQ building in Irving, and that building had a completely separate entrance to a completely separate garage with completely separate elevators for Lee Raymond and other C-suite execs to use, so they wouldn't accidentally have to associate with their employees (who were already a pretty elite bunch).

Both Sides Do It said...

For awhile I sued Georgia Pacific on a fairly regular basis. Felt good.

I'm starting to think there's a deliberate design in placing so much emphasis on voting, what with independent groups doing GOTV ads and all kinds of corporate messaging saying "vote vote vote". Go do this momentous thing, feel good about it, feel like you did your duty and fulfilled your responsibility. Come back in three and a half years to vote for another set of drones.

Even that Lena Dunham ad. "Hey, go vote, get a little bit of sexual frission on top of fulfilling your civic duty." No one will ever make one of those about more important and momentous political activity, comparing, say, sitting through a county-level party meeting to oral sex. Although that might be due to something intrinsic to county-level party meetings.

Anonymous said...

"I want my fair share"

That's the gangster/Godfather mentality which takes the likes of the Koch Bros to the top of the plutocratic heap. Doesn't matter if it's only a pittance. Due respect and fear are what matters. Try stiffing your local loan shark out of a small ammount and watch what happens.

fish said...

Dammit, does Tbogg have to do another post with My Little Ponies and rainbows to convince you to get on the Obama bandwagon?

I love it when he makes "free Mummia" jokes.