Well, I’ll be. Apparently Koch Industries has someone on payroll checking the web for negative mentions of their poor little rich boy owners, and they managed to find my meager little offering, and they have let me know I was wrong, wrong, wrong:
Koch Industries says:
The assertions here are wrong. Go to http://www.kochfacts.com to get accurate information.
Then, to make sure I got the point, one minute later:
Koch Facts says:
The story quoted here is missing some facts from Koch Industries. Please visithttp://www.kochfacts.com to learn more.
So there are either two people doing this who both found me independently at the same time, or the same guy logging on under two aliases and leaving two comments a minute apart on my blog. Awesome. I think I like “Koch Facts” better, though, since he only says I’m “missing some facts,” while the other guy flat-out says I’m wrong.
Both link to the same propaganda site, which includes this gem:
Sure, if you think a better place is one where income equality has increased exponentially over the past 30 of those 40 years:
All my life I’ve heard Latin America described as a failed society (or collection of failed societies) because of its grotesque maldistribution of wealth. Peasants in rags beg for food outside the high walls of opulent villas, and so on. But according to the Central Intelligence Agency (whose patriotism I hesitate to question), income distribution in the United States is more unequal than in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and roughly on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador. Income inequality is actually declining in Latin America even as it continues to increase in the United States. Economically speaking, the richest nation on earth is starting to resemble a banana republic.
But that’s the result of economic and political policies (aided and abetted by sycophantic economists) designed to favor the oligarchy as a whole (while fucking the rest of us over, and over, and over). The Kochs have certainly benefited from that, and they have played their own part in bankrolling the “Great Divergence,” and the corporatist takeover of government (to the tune of $100 million over the years), as shown in Jane Mayer’s excellent New Yorker article. They have bankrolled the supposedly “populist” Tea Party movement with an array of front groups and shell companies. And they have also done their level best to become the “financial kingpin(s) of climate science denial and clean energy opposition:”
The Kansas-based company and its affiliates and foundations spent almost $25 million on “organizations of the ‘climate denial machine'” between 2005 and 2008, according to the report. Koch Industries and the Koch family also spent $37.9 million between 2006 and 2009. “Although Koch intentionally stays out of the public eye, it is now playing a quiet but dominant role in a high-profile national policy debate on global warming,” the report concludes…
The Koch PAC has given more than $10,000 to 21 lawmakers since 2004—four Democrats and 17 Republicans—which is more than any other oil-and-gas sector PAC, the report states. Topping the House recipients: Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) at $30,500, Eric Cantor (R-Va.) at $28,000, and Joe Barton (R-Texas) at $26,500. On the Senate side, Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Lisa Murkowsi (R-Alaska) both received $20,000 in Koch Funds, and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) received $18,000.
Between the foundation-funded groups, lobbying, political action contributions, Koch Industries and the Koch brothers are “among the most formidable obstacles to advancing clean energy and climate policy in the U.S.,” Greenpeace states.
The report also looks at Koch’s role in the so-called “ClimateGate” scandal, in which emails between scientists were hacked and made public. There’s been little doubt that this and other recent attacks on climate science were a coordinated attack by well-organized and well-funded groups hoping to sow doubt about the validity of climate change. Greenpeace notes that “Twenty organizations, roughly half of the Koch-funded groups profiled in this report, have contributed to the “ClimateGate” echo chamber.” The groups have posted articles, hosted events, and landed their in-house skeptics on cable news. Cato, for example, recently boasted that its senior fellow, Pat Michaels, was “at the center of the ‘ClimateGate’ controversy” in their newsletter.
The Kochs have also supported efforts to undermine scientific findings that polar bears are threatened by climate change by funding a study by prominent climate deniers. One of the authors, Dr. Willie Soon, disclosed in the acknowledgments that his work “was partially supported by grants from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, American Petroleum Institute, and Exxon-Mobil Corporation.”
So, thanks for the “facts,” you Koch-suckers, but I prefer truth over truthiness. Hopefully this post will get your search engines going and you’ll provide a few more hits to my humble blog. I can’t wait to get my first cease-and-desist letter from the lawyers for Koch Industries, Inc. Then I can finally say:
UPDATE: In the Center for Media and Democracy article linked to above, the authors note the creation of the “kochfacts” website as pushback against the sudden media scrutiny of the Kochs:
In the wake of The New Yorker article about their hidden political activities, the Kochs aren’t taking their new exposure easily. Their Web site now contains a response to “recent media attacks” that says discussion of their backing of AFP is an effort to “diminish and mischaracterize important and authentic citizen efforts” to “support education and human services programs.” It paints their opponents as enemies of “economic freedom.” It also says, “The Koch family and their foundation have been publicly devoted to making the world a better place.” What they don’t say is that they’ve been devoted to making the world a better place for themselves and their businesses.
The Koch’s political effectiveness depends on people knowing as little about them as possible. Further articles and radio stories about their exploits, like those recently in the New York Times and National Public Radio, are contributing to their exposure. The more people know about how these mega-rich brothers are manipulating the public, the less people are likely to tolerate it.
The main point is that it is fundamentally unfair for super-wealthy people like the Kochs to pour money into hidden campaigns designed mislead people and undermine the government with such smoke-and-mirrors shenanigans. It degrades the country.
The last paragraph of the article is key:
We are certainly grateful to The New Yorker for finally exposing the Kochs, but the family has operated quite freely this way decades now. The media also bears responsibility for making the Koch’s pervasive exploits possible for all this time. Until now, mainstream news organizations covering the exploits of Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks have largely been unquestioning, and treated them as though they are real grassroots operations. The media has failed to dig, question, and find the deeper story here. To be of real service in this day and age, news organizations can no longer just report on the activities of a group without also teasing out the origins and funding sources that animate the group, and telling the public about those as well. Most Americans are simply too busy trying to survive to research “grassroots” groups like those set up by the Kochs. We are past the age of innocence, where we can take groups like this at face value. The media needs to do a better job of digging deeper and showing people what is really happening behind the scenes in this country that is undermining our democracy.
Unfortunately, the media would rather expound on the meaning of Sarah Palin’s Tweets, and elevate the batshit insane pastor of a 50-member church in Florida to celebrity status, just because he’s threatening to do something really stupid. Do your fucking jobs.
UPDATE #2: Rachel Maddow has a good piece on the Kochs tonight, focusing on their astroturfing activities.