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July 12, 2016



After Obama’s election in 2008, the libertarian brothers from Wichita got serious, gearing up for the 2010 elections with new energy and more money in order to have Republicans prevail in the mid-term elections of 2010. They were very successful. Per Mayer, Republicans gained 63 seats in the House and 6 seats in the Senate, and at the state level Republicans gained 675 legislative seats. This latter number is important because 2010 was the decennial year set aside for legislative redistricting, and by winning big in the states Republicans now had four times as many districts to gerrymander, which means that by creating reliably safe seats, they could build a firewall protecting the Republican majority in the House until the next redistricting 10 years distant.

The fact is that with an unemployment rate over 9 percent in a mid-term election a Republican win in 2010 was likely, but the huge amount of money from a handful of ultrarich conservatives helped turn the likely win into a rout. Let’s backtrack a bit and see where all this money and the rout came from.

In June, 2010, the Kochs hosted a summit meeting at Aspen, Colorado, where they invited fellow zillionaires for a meeting designed to influence the fall’s elections. Many of their invitees were not fanatically ideological like the Kochs; they simply wanted as hedge fund managers and industrialists to preserve their continuing accumulation of wealth through such accounting ruses as “carried interest” and the like. A list of some of such attendees and their wealth who were on the Forbes list (per Mayer) is set forth as follows: Charles Koch: $44.7 billion, David Koch: $44.7 billion, Steve Schwarzman: $11.7 billion, Philip Anschutz: $11 billion, Ken Griffin: $7 billion, Richard DeVos (brother in law of Erik Prince): $5.8 billion, Diane Hendricks: $3.6 billion, Ken Langone: $2.9 billion, Steve Bechtel: $2.7 billion, Stan Hubbard: $2 billion, and Joe Craft: $1.4 billion. There were some 200 others who attended this secret conclave sponsored by the Kochs in Aspen, which was one of many they have sponsored both before and since, and it is safe to say they weren’t broke even if they didn’t make the Forbes list.

In the evening of the Aspen meeting those in attendance were treated to a rousing dinner speech by the then Fox News host Glen Beck entitled, “Is America on the road to Serfdom?” (an ode to Hayek). Topping off an evening of cocktails and desserts, Whitney Ball, head of an organization that offered donors a politically safe way to give big and anonymously, made her pitch. She referred to her audience as a “target-rich environment. She was right. They ponied up a truckload of pledged funds for the upcoming election, and it was a good investment for those on the financial side of the meeting in that their “carried interest” and other such tax breaks were safe from repeal by those “socialist” Democrats with election of a solidly Republican House (from which all revenue bills must constitutionally originate). It also paid off for the political anti-tax/anti-regulation zealots such as the libertarian-minded Kochs and the likes of Grover Norquist, whose ideas were not merely to rein in government but, as Norquist put it, “to drown it in a bathtub,” spoken like the good libertarians and nihilists they were and are.

On the final day of the Aspen event, Charles and David Koch themselves pledged $12 million, and by the end of the meal, the Koch-backed nonprofits (which shields identities of donors) could add $25 million more from zillionaire attendees to the kitty to elect Republicans to do their bidding. It worked, and to put frosting on the cake, the tea party came into view in that fall’s election and brought its no-compromise/shut the government down philosophy with it, a view the libertarian-nihilists such as the Kochs approved, and why not? The “government” was in the way of “prosperity and freedom,” as their propagandists recited over and over. Something had to be done.

The result of the Republican victory in 2010 was not just a big win for the superrich and anti-government libertarians posing as Republicans; it also provided an environment from which so-called Republicans (many of whom were actually libertarians in disguise intent on taking over the real Republican Party while trashing Democrats) could attack Obama’s core agenda by undermining his policies on immigration, health care, abortion, gay rights, voting rights, guns, labor and the environment. It was a perfect storm.

They have done a good job, failing only to repeal Obamacare, but providing gridlock for all of the Administration’s initiatives that failed to pass the tests of their corporate/financier/libertarian overlords. President Obama correctly set out the political environment he was forced to live with when in commenting in December 2010 of the debacle the month before that, “It used to be that you could govern by peeling off a couple of Republicans to do the right thing, but now Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are the center of the Republican Party – and there is no possibility of cooperation.” He was referring to the then public center of attention, of course, because the center of the Republican Party was then and is now located in Wichita, Kansas, and New York, New York – where those with the deep pocketbooks and concealed identities rule the roost in Washington, D.C. and many statehouses as well. McConnell, Ryan, Issa and others are mere lackeys who carry out the wishes and demands and threats of their money bosses in Kansas and New York.

The geographical connection between Wichita and Hinsdale College is weak and indirect, but both venues have this in common: they are breeding grounds for those who both hate and simultaneously use government for their own purposes. Libertarians would limit government to protection of property; Erik Prince would use government and political connections for self-enrichment under cover of the flag. Such short-sighted views and democracy, like oil and water, can never be mixed. We need to remove such people from positions of authority whether rich or poor or supposedly patriotic by removing those politicians from office who allow such subversions of democracy.

So where are we today as a practical matter? Fortunately, Republicans (however reluctantly) have nominated a man who is not electable for president, otherwise I think their backers supported by Koch-supported “think tanks,” Big Money and captives of the business press might well have been able to elect the next president. That leaves the “down ticket” of the House and Senate up for grabs. As a result of the nomination of Trump, the Senate will in my opinion be again Democratic and even the gerrymandered House may be up for grabs, depending upon the depth of carryover disdain for Trump. Money released by the hackneyed finding in Citizens United may be a problem, but I have hopes that the people will see through the blizzard of propaganda such a torrent produces and vote not for the Kochs or for the moneychangers but for those who will represent ALL of the people for a change. It’s time.    GERALD     E






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