THE POWER OF LIES TO SHUT DOWN THE MOST POWERFUL COUNTRY IN HISTORY

For those of us who are mystified by the behavior of the Republicans in Congress two recent articles have been useful.  They reveal that a cabal set this confusing project – to overturn The Affordable Care Act, which they have derisively called Obamacare – in the face of all odds, as if they could force the Senate to support their proposals and the President to sign them into law.  From here it seems like a fools errand, tilting at windmills.  But the NYT article about the secret meetings immediately after the last presidential election seeking a strategy to at all costs derail the Affordable Care Act help me to get it.

All this is interesting and helpful to me, but merely a revelation of what I had supposed all along.What has helped me especially understand it is an article by Joshua Holland [“To Understand the Shutdown You Have to Grasp the Mindset of the GOP Base,” October 5, 2013, by Joshua Holland] who has summarized a survey of Republican groups by the Democracy Corp.  This is what they say about the voting base that supports these Republicans:

The base consists of three kinds of groups. Even though they differ in certain ways, they agree on their fear of a changing society.  For all of them The battle over Obamacare, “goes to the heart of Republican base thinking about the essential political battle.” They think [the …] Democratic Party … is intent on expanding government to increase dependency and therefore electoral support.” So, food stamps for the poor, unemployment benefits, legalizing the illegal immigrants, insuring the uninsured – these policies create dependency.  So they oppose support for the poor, the unemployed, the immigrants, the uninsured.  “They believe this is an electoral strategy — not just a political ideology or economic philosophy. If Obamacare happens, the Republican Party may be lost, in their view,” says Holland.  What especially struck me was the comment that this group is fully aware of how white they are “in a country with growing minorities.” So there indeed is an implicit racist worry in this movement.

They all see Obama as a usurper, a liar, a Marxist, even (as some believe) a Muslim, but they differ in certain ways.
The Evangelicals are primarily alarmed about the gay rights movement.
The libertarians hardly believe in government and are strongly pro-business.
The moderates on the other hand disdain the Tea Party elements of the party and scorn Fox News – surely the main source of the notions that Obama is a liar, a Marxist, a Muslim, etc. – but they are concerned about how marginal they are becoming to the GOP. In fact, they see the party as pathetically out of date.

So here we are, a country in the grip of a terrified, paranoid minority who have the wealth and leverage to shut down the whole country.  That the rank and file are animated by fears created by a small cabal makes the scene all the more scary.

THE WASHINGTON CESSPOOL — WHO COULD HAVE GUESSED?

Watching Bill Moryers’s interview with Mark Leibovich today, on the system of relations in Washington, I learned what I could not have made up, could have have imagined.  Justice is being subverted in DC on a
gargantuan and pervasive scale.  Moral sensibility has been dulled all around, not only among the political leaders who
are being bought off by the powerful corporations but also among the
media.
The details of Liebovich’s book are worth repeating, some of them discussed in the interview.  Every person named here should be closely inspected for how he or she has caved into the powerful vortex of corporate interest, which now controls the way our country’s wealth is being divvied up.
Here I reproduce Bill Moyers’s critical summation of the situation at the end of the interview: it states so bluntly and vigorously the sense of outrage that the people of this country
should feel toward what is happening in Washington [I only wish I could write like him].  Washington is not a place where the interests of the
American people are being dutifully served but a place where vultures [the rich and well connected of all sorts] feed on the
wealth paid in by the ordinary Americans, distributing the largess in such a way as to insure that blame
is so broadly distributed that no one — no person, no corporation, no industry — can be held to account.  Most of us don’t know how totally our country is dominated by an upper class that includes both parties and even a media that now sucks up to the powerful and connected.

BILL MOYERS: We are so close to losing our democracy to the mercenary class, it’s as if we are leaning way over the rim of the Grand Canyon and all that’s needed is a swift kick in the pants. Look out below. 

The predators in Washington are only this far from monopoly control of our government. They have bought the political system, lock, stock and pork barrel, making change from within impossible. That’s the real joke. 

Sometimes I long for the wit of a Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. They treat this town as burlesque, and with satire and parody show it the disrespect it deserves. We laugh, and punch each other on the arm, and tweet that the rascals got their just dessert. Still, the last laugh always seems to go to the boldface names that populate this town. To them belong the spoils of a looted city. They get the tax breaks, the loopholes, the contracts, the payoffs. 

They fix the system so multimillionaire hedge fund managers and private equity tycoons pay less of a tax rate on their income than school teachers, police and fire fighters, secretaries and janitors. They give subsidies to rich corporate farms and cut food stamps for working people facing hunger. They remove oversight of the wall street casinos, bail out the bankers who torpedo the economy, fight the modest reforms of Dodd-Frank, prolong tax havens for multinationals, and stick it to consumers while rewarding corporations. 

We pay. We pay at the grocery store. We pay at the gas pump. We pay the taxes they write off. Our low-wage workers pay with sweat and deprivation because this town – aloof, self-obsessed, bought off and doing very well, thank you – feels no pain. 

The journalists who could tell us these things rarely do – and some, never. They aren’t blind, simply bedazzled. Watch the evening news – any evening news – or the Sunday talk shows. Listen to the chit-chat of the early risers on morning TV — and ask yourself if you are learning anything about how this town actually works. 

William Greider, one of our craft’s finest reporters, fierce and unbought, despite a long life in Washington once said that no one can hope to understand what is driving political behavior without asking the kind of gut-level questions politicians ask themselves in private: “Who are the winners in this matter and who are the losers? Who gets the money and who has to pay? Who must be heard on this question and who can be safely ignored?” 

Perhaps they don’t ask these questions because they fear banishment from the parties and perks, from the access that passes as seduction in this town.   

Or perhaps they do not tell us these things because they fear that if the system were exposed for what it is, outraged citizens would descend on this town, and tear it apart with their bare hands. 

Iran is readying for war?

The recent speech by Ali Khamenei [mentioned today only in one other place] seems reason for serious concern about Iran’s reaction to the embargo.  Khamenei is suggesting that they are in the last days, when the twelfth Imam is supposed to return and usher in the Final Judgment.  The speech seems to be an attempt to prepare the Iranian people for war.
This kind of vision about the times was clearly implied in the language of Ruhollah Khomeini when he was calling for a movement against the Shah in 1979.  And Khomeini himself was sometimes spoken of (especially by his students) as “the Imam”, a term that in that context vaguely implied that he was the long awaited Mahdi/12th Imam.  The ambiguity was deliberate.
Khamenei’s  speech is a sign of a serious attempt to muster the Iranian people for a sacrificial war comparable to that  Iran was forced to fight the army of Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.  So it is reason to worry.  Iran is being seriously boxed in, and so the regime could take measures that could lead the country and the region into war.  
What I wonder is how this rhetoric can sell in today’s Iran.  Khameini well knows how unpopular he and his clerical administration is.  He is not crazy, and this administration is  much more savvy than we sometimes take them to be.
We can all regard the many signs of instability and hatred in the world, of which this is one, as reason to hope that the world leaders will demonstrate restraint and wisdom.

The Kordofan War and its casualties: Anyone paying attention?

Al Jazeera claims to be the only news source on what’s going on in Kordofan, which is in south Sudan — the southern part of the new Sudan, after Southern Sudan was carved out of it.

Sudan has a reputation for indifference to the needs of its population so long as the “Arab” elite in northeast Sudan, led by Bashir, can remain safely in control of the key institutions of government.  After 37 years of war with the south, which it has now given up to become a separate country, and many years of deliberate exploitation of its western province of Darfur, the government still seems unable to be at peace with itself. One wonders if some countries — some administrations — cannot remain in power without having an enemy to justify an continued internal mobilization.  Sudan may be such a place.

But it seems that few people are paying attention.  It is fair to doubt that any of this will appear on American TV, and so will go unnoticed, unreported as far as most of the world’s audiences are concerned.

Click on the title above for a link to a video on what it’s like to live under a regime that regards any form of independent living as a threat to its own existence.

Another Whistleblower Fired

This is not the first time that we have heard that our government is not kind to whisleblowers, but the new statement by Peter Van Buren [Confessions of an Iraq War Whistleblower: The State Department fired me for telling the truth about US failures in Iraq. Here’s why I don’tregret it.] should deeply sadden all of us.  We suppose that we reside in a country that honors its claims of the pursuit of justice.  

Not much to be proud of here.  It reminds me of the response to Fear Up Harsh by Tony Lagouranis:  Most people don’t seem to want to know about torture of Iraqis even though, in the case of Lagouranis, he has felt deeply ashamed of his part in it.

And the state department doesn’t want people to know about the failures in Iraq — after all, a lot of blood has been spilled there and a lot of taxpayer’s cash.

Big Oil and a few super-rich are pushing a global crisis–Ferrel of MarketWatch

When a commentator on MarketWatch worries about the same things I worry about it makes me think I might not be as crazy as I have feared. Paul B. Farrell [Big Oil’s civilization-ending pollution push: And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s ‘insane’ plan.] is worried that “Big Oil” will “end civilization” because of its powerful financial grip on political affairs around the world.  This is what he says:

  • Are you focused solely on a piece of Big Oil’s estimated $150 billion short-term profits in 2012? Or are you investing for the long term, in a new America, in a sustainable planet for your grand kids, the one our next generation inherits in 2050?
  • [We live in] a sharply polarized America, [there is a] deep gap that divides politicians and voters, conservatives and progressives, occupiers and tea partiers, Big Oil and environmentalists, the Super Rich 1% and the 99% rest of Americans.
  • [N]o matter who’s elected president, [World War IV] now has its own momentum, it will intensify, and will grow deadlier in the next decades as global population explodes from 7 billion today to 10 billion by 2050 and our depleting natural resources can no longer produce enough food for 10 billion.
  • [The US Chamber of Commerce] gets . . . $100 million from deep pockets like Big Oil giants: British Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell Oil and dirty-coal giant Massey. And equally significant, more than 50 private and sovereign foreign corporations in India, Bahrain, Germany, Britain, and Canada, all paying dues to the Chamber, money that funds the Chamber’s political ads and lobbyists fighting America’s environmental energy policies, fighting to wipe out regulations that protect the public.
  • [The opposition to this influence from the left] is environmental economist Bill McKibben, author of the 1990 classic, “End of Nature,” and founder of 350.org, a “global grassroots movement” of “thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries.” . . . McKibben’s 350.org says “to preserve our planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350 ppm.” 
  • [The] Chamber loves Big Oil’s civilization-ending pollution agenda.  . . .  Thomas Donohue, the chamber’s CEO, delivered his annual State of American Business address mocking government “regulations, mandates and higher taxes.”
  • McKibben warns of the chamber’s bias: They were “the biggest political funder in the last election cycle, outspending the Republican and Democratic national committees combined.
  • Donohue claimed America has “1.4 trillion barrels of oil, enough to last at least 200 years. We have 2.7 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to last 120 years. We have 486 billion tons of coal, enough to last more than 450 years, and we need to use more of this strategic resource cleanly and wisely here at home while selling it around the world.”
  • [The response] But then what? The world ends? Yes. Actually much sooner. Because waiting till the last minute is suicidal. ThinkProgress.org columnist Brad Johnson even called Donohue’s speech a “Civilization-Ending Pollution Agenda” where “free enterprise requires a future of accelerated, unending global warming.” . . . 
  • “[S]cientists have long since concluded that to keep the planet’s temperature rise below a disastrous 2 degrees Celsius, the entire globe can burn, at most, an additional 650 billion tons of CO2. Or about one-third” of what the Chamber, Big Oil, Dirty Coal and Hot Gas propose burning.  . . . “Using tables from the government’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, [NASA scientists] calculated that burning those quantities of coal, gas and oil would raise the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide from its current 392 parts per million to almost 650 ppm.” 
  • [McKibben:] “For Donohue to recommend blithely increasing it by more than 50% is — well, it’s insane. Every nation on Earth has been conducting negotiations in an attempt to keep CO2 concentrations below 450 ppm; much research indicates we actually need to get back below 350 ppm to stabilize global climate.”  Worse: “Donohue was only talking about American hydrocarbons.” Add in Canada, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kuwait, Venezuela, Norway, China, South Africa, Indonesia, Brazil and more, and “his prescription is fundamentally outrageous, at odds with everything we know,” a doomsday scenario “beyond dumb” that “only the most profound global-warming denier could ever embrace.”
Yes, our civilization could simply overdrive the system it depends on to the point of collapse.  You might think our leaders are too sensible, too rational to allow that to happen.  Well, considering the way they have behaved in the last decade, what would you expect?

The price of breaking our own rules

Barry Wingard is a Lt Col, Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the Air Force, has served 28 years and is a war veteran, and in civilian life he serves as a public defender in the city of Pittsburgh.  His statement of the reasons for American problems of remaining in Iraq are so on point that I think it should be more widely read.  However, I wish this had been published in a prominent American paper.  Thankfully, Al Jazeera would publish it.  From the Jan 18, 2012 site: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/01/20121141418247919.html.

Rule of law in full retreat

‘How can the US set the standard for equal justice and human rights when its own moral authority lies in ruin?’

Washington DC – President Obama recently announced that, by the end of 2011, all United States military forces will be withdrawn from Iraq.
Reportedly, the US would like to have established some lasting military presence in Iraq (similar to that in Kuwait and other friendly nations); but this scenario was not possible because the US and Iraq could not agree upon the terms of a “status of forces agreement” (SOFA).
Such agreements generally permit the United States to exercise jurisdiction over certain criminal matters involving United States service members, rather than having service members prosecuted by host-nation authorities. So, in essence, the reason the US had to withdraw all its troops is because the Iraqis do not trust the United States’ legal system.
And who can blame them?
In recent years, Iraq watched the US’ response to the widely-publicised atrocities at Abu Ghraib by prosecuting only the lowest-ranking offenders (with no meaningful accountability at higher levels). Iraq also witnessed a complete lack of accountability when American employees of “Blackwater” allegedly killed dozens of Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square.
These were not exactly shining examples of “American justice in action. 

But perhaps the most obvious reason the Iraqis might be suspect of the American legal system is that, for the past 10 years, the most visible example of “American justice” has been the confinement of Muslims at Guantanamo Bay without a trial of any kind.
Reaping a poisonous cropFor 10 years, the US has clearly demonstrated it applies one set of legal rules to Americans and another to non-Americans. The first set respects due process, the rule of law, individual rights and the concept of innocent until proven guilty.
Unfortunately, the second set involves enhanced interrogation, indefinite detention and a presumption of guilt without any opportunity to prove innocence.
So, having planted the seeds of legal inequality, the US has now begun to reap a poisonous crop. And its inability to negotiate a SOFA with Iraq is likely one of many serious consequences.
While the US continues to characterise its policies in easily-digestible terms for domestic consumption (such as “war on terror” and “homeland security”), the world opinion of the US and its commitment to justice is on decline and has changed forever.
How can the US set the standard for equal justice and human rights when its own moral authority lies in ruin?
The Arab spring has presented opportunities for meaningful change throughout the Middle East. Unfortunately, the US has placed itself in a poor position to extend the hand of friendship or to provide an example for new democracies to follow.
This is especially true for those countries still represented amongst the suffering population of Guantanamo Bay, 95 per cent of whom will never receive a trial or an apology for the treatment they endured or their ruined lives. Why does the US assert its right to hold human beings for life without trial in its never-ending battle against “terror”?
The only justification that I can see is “because it can”.

Lt Col Wingard is a military lawyer who represents Fayiz al-Kandari and has served for 28 years in the military. When not on active duty, he is a public defender in the city of Pittsburgh.

A glimpse into the world of the super-rich: The little help Romney gets from his friends

It’s hard to believe what politicians say when they are seeking election.  Mitt Romney has said that he didn’t inherit his huge wealth but earned it. Strange thing to say of the son of the former President of American Motors, former governor of Michigan, and once a candidate for President of the United States.
Here is an excerpt of what the New York Times says about the financial support that Romney is now getting from his friends.
The securities and investment industry has given more money to Mr. Romney than any other industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and some of its leading figures have donated millions of dollars to Restore Our Future, the “super PAC” bolstering Mr. Romney’s campaign. Goldman employees are also the biggest source of donations to Free & Strong America PAC, a group Mr. Romney founded but no longer controls.
But Mr. Romney’s personal finances are particularly entwined with Goldman.
His federal financial disclosure statements show Mr. Romney and his wife, their blind trusts and their family foundation to be prodigious consumers of the bank’s services. In 2011, Mr. Romney’s blind trust and the couple’s retirement accounts held as much as $36.7 million in at least two dozen Goldman investment vehicles, earning as much as $3 million a year in income. Mrs. Romney’s trust had at least $10.2 million in Goldman funds — possibly much more — earning as much as $6.2 million.
Tax returns released by the campaign this week also highlighted some of the privileges Mr. Romney enjoyed as a friend of Goldman: In May 1999, a few months after he left Bain to run the Salt Lake City Olympics, Goldman allowed Mr. Romney to buy at least 7,000 Goldman shares during the firm’s lucrative initial public offering — a generous allotment even among Goldman clients, according to people with knowledge of the deal. When Mr. Romney’s trusts sold the shares in December 2010, a few months before he formed his presidential exploratory committee for the 2012 race, they returned a profit of $750,000.

Will the new systems established after the Arab Spring avoid the oppressive systems they have overturned?

The dilemmas of what should happen next in the Arab world have been stated one way by an Iranian opponent of the Iranian government, Ibrahim Yazdi, and another way in an article by the Arab social critic Mahan Abedin [“Arab Spring confounds Iran’s opposition,” Asian Times, Nov 10, 2011].  According to Yazdi a danger exists that the successful movements against repressive regimes in the Arab world could now be replaced by equally repressive systems.  He seems to blame the unfamiliarity of Muslims with all that is entailed in democracy.   Yazdi says: 

“Despite struggling for fundamental rights, freedom and self-determination, we Muslims from any nationality lack sufficient experience with democracy. We struggle and overthrow dictators but we don’t remove tyranny as a mode of governance and a way of life.”  

Yazdi of course has seen it happen, for he had been part of the Iranian uprising against the Shah in 1978-1979, and he experienced the takeover by Ruhullah Khomeini and those with him who, once in power, set about to remove [essentially to exterminate] those who could not share their Islamist vision for the country.  Yazdi survived but has been alienated for years, the position from which he now warns the Tunisians:  Their movement could end up being different from what they had originally been calling for.  He has good reason, then, to fear that these successful movements in Tunisia [and also Egypt] could be replaced by a  system as repressive as the old; a similar warning was once made by Foucault about revolutionary movements generally.  

Abedin is unimpressed by Yazdi’s warning, seeing in it a Iranian condescending attitude.  But Abedin seems even to push Yazdi’s point further, for he thinks that Islam and the democracy that the Arab Spring movements have demanded may be intrinsically incompatible.  Of the newly elected Tunisian Islamist party, al-Nahda (Renaissance), he says that  

“… these movements have yet to successfully grapple with their ideological dilemma. The essence of their ideology commits them to the creation of a pan-Islamic state, if not a fully-fledged caliphate. It also commits them to introducing the Islamic sharia as the basis of legislation and the general ordering of state and society.  While these goals are not necessarily inimical to democracy, they are not harmonious with it either. The Muslim Brotherhood and its many offshoots can legitimately claim to be democratic in spirit once they have resolved this ideological contradiction.

This is an old question.  Most Muslims I know see no reason why Islam cannot be built into a constituted democracy; that was the project Pakistan set out to accomplish in 1947.  We continue to watch and hope that the new regimes being established in Tunisia and Egypt will indeed establish the kind of democracy that they will cherish and be eager to protect from all forms of social oppression, a necessary feature of democracy if it is to be successfully practiced.

[Click on the title for a link to the original article by Abedin.]

Two powerful Kansans whose influence is shaping the course of history, in their own interest

An article in Al Jazeera on the Koch brothers, Charles and David, is chilling because it reveals how easy it is for money — that is, people with lots of money — to subvert the democratic system in the name of democracy.  To them “democracy” seems to mean the right for those who have the wealth to keep it and control the flow of information in their own interest, to control Congress so as to ensure that they and their enterprises will prosper, whatever it means to others, the rest of the country or the rest of the world.  I reproduce this article here in its entirety to emphasize how such a project works, how the super-rich, if so inclined, can subvert the conventions that are supposed to ensure opportunity for everyone in a society.  Could the Kochs themselves, with all their wealth, be the main forces behind the powerful pull to the right in American politics in the last 30 years?  That they are from a modest middle class neighborhood in Wichita, Kansas, however, prompts me to have another question:  How did they get from there to became what they are now, with their elitist and self-serving agendas?   RLC  [click on the title above for a link to the source.]

Al Jazeera 01 Nov 2011:  “The Koch Brothers:  People and Power asks if the tycoon duo’s fortune could put the radical right into the White House.”  By Bob Abeshouse. 

Charles and David Koch are each worth about $25bn, which makes them the fourth richest Americans. When you combine their fortunes, they are the third wealthiest people in the world. Radical libertarians who use their money to oppose government and virtually all regulation as interference with the free market, the Kochs are in a class of their own as players on the American political stage. Their web of influence in the US stretches from state capitals to the halls of congress in Washington DC.
The Koch brothers fueled the conservative Tea Party movement that vigorously opposes Barack Obama, the US president. They fund efforts to derail action on global warming, and support politicians who object to raising taxes on corporations or the wealthy to help fix America’s fiscal problems. According to New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, who wrote a groundbreaking exposé of the Kochs in 2010, they have built a top to bottom operation to shape public policy that has been “incredibly effective. They are so rich that their pockets are almost bottomless, and they can keep pouring money into this whole process”.
Koch industries, the second largest privately-held company in the US, is an oil refining, chemical, paper products and financial services company with revenues of a $100bn a year. Virtually every American household has some Koch product – from paper towels and lumber, to Stainmaster carpet and Lycra in sports clothes, to gasoline for cars. The Koch’s political philosophy of rolling back environmental and financial regulations is also beneficial to their business interests.
The Kochs rarely talk to the press, and conduct their affairs behind closed doors. But at a secret meeting of conservative activists and funders the Kochs held in Vail, Colorado this past summer, someone made undercover recordings. One caught Charles Koch urging participants to dig deep into their pockets to defeat Obama. “This is the mother of all wars we’ve got in the next 18 months,” he says, “for the life or death of this country.” He called out the names of 31 people at the Vail meeting who each contributed more than $1m over the past 12 months.
In the 2010 congressional elections, the Kochs and their partners spent at least $40m, helping to swing the balance of power in the US House of Representatives towards right-wing Tea Party Republicans. It has been reported that the Kochs are planning to raise and spend more than $200m to defeat Obama in 2012. But the brothers could easily kick in more without anyone knowing due to loopholes in US law.
The Kochs founded and provide millions to Americans for Prosperity, a political organisation that builds grassroots support for conservative causes and candidates. Americans for Prosperity, which has 33 state chapters and claims to have about two million members, has close ties to Tea Party groups and played a key role in opposing Obama’s health care initiative.
This year, Americans for Prosperity spent at least half a million dollars supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to cut social spending and roll back collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. The legislation passed by Walker makes it more difficult for unions, which are major backers of Democratic candidates, to secure funds for political purposes. Americans for Prosperity is also very active in a battle against unions in Ohio, another important 2012 presidential state. Its president, Tim Phillips, says that the organisation is winning in Wisconsin and around the country “because on the policies of economic freedom, we’re right”. He refused to tell People and Power reporter Bob Abeshouse how much the organisation is spending to combat the unions.
The Kochs have also poured millions into think tanks and academia to influence the battle over ideas. According to Kert Davies, the director of research for Greenpeace in the US, the Kochs have spent more than $50m since 1998 on “various front groups and think tanks who … oppose the consensus view that climate change is real, urgent and we have to do something about it”. As operators of oil pipelines and refineries, the Kochs have opposed all efforts to encourage alternative sources of energy by imposing a tax on fossil fuels.
Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow at the CATO Institute, often appears in the media to contest global warming science. CATO was founded by Charles Koch, and the Kochs and their foundations have contributed about $14m to CATO. Since 2009, there has been a sharp drop in the percentage of Americans who see global warming as a serious threat according to Gallup polls. Davies argues that the change can be attributed in large measure to the efforts of scientists like Michaels and others who are funded by the fossil fuel industry.
The Kochs have also promoted their free market ideology and business interests through aggressive lobbying in Washington DC, and financial support of political candidates. Greenpeace has tracked more than $50m that Koch Industries has spent on lobbyists since 2006, when Cap and Trade and other legislation to combat global warming was being considered. The Kochs have been the largest political spender since 2000 in the energy sector, exceeding Exxon, Chevron, and other major players.
The Kochs contributed to 62 of the 87 new members of the US House of Representatives in 2010. Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the Kochs supported have taken the lead in opposing US Environmental Protection Agency efforts to reduce global warming emissions. Other members backed by the Kochs belong to the right-wing Tea Party bloc that took the US to the brink of default in July by refusing to consider a budget deal that would include tax increases.
In 2012, many believe that President Obama can raise a billion dollars for the presidential race, and break all fundraising records. But as Lee Fang of the Center for American Progress tells reporter Bob Abeshouse, in the end it may not matter “because the Koch brothers alone increased their wealth by $11bn in the last two years”.