The Koch Brothers Have Been Waging A War On America For 50 Years. This Is How They Are Winning.

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If you had to name two people who are still mad about the ’60s, Charles and David Koch would be at the top of the list. No other individuals in the history of America have had a bigger impact on American society than those two crackpots. To further their dystopian vision for America, they have taken full advantage of the US tax code to create a bewildering array of think tanks, lobbying groups, and institutes, all of which are designed to alter the political landscape.

Koch Brothers embarrass AmericaLet’s list just some of their accomplishments: Citizens United, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Tea Party, attacks on Planned Parenthood, creation of the ultra right wing Federalist Society, The Heartland Institute, a newly energized NRA, and a hand picked Supreme Court justice. They have subverted entire law schools (Harvard is a prime example) through the simple expedient of throwing piles of cash at them. The weaponized gerrymandering that has occurred in several states since 2010 is the result of Koch Brothers money.

During the bitter attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Koch representatives make no pretense of disguising their intentions, warning wavering members of Congress that the Koch Brothers “piggy bank” was closed until they got the job done. The latest so-called tax reform bill was another Koch Brothers command performance. Paul Ryan’s despicable plan to pay for that boondoggle — which put billions more dollars into the Koch Brothers’ pockets — is to slash Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Forcing retirees to go back to work to qualify for health benefits? Pure Koch Brothers. Busting unions? Koch Brothers. Spreading disinformation about electric cars and renewable energy? Koch Brothers. It is no exaggeration to say that the Koch Brothers have put a gun to the head of Miss Liberty and their fingers are on the trigger.

Recently, The Intercept obtained a copy of a confidential memo from the pair outlining their successes for their supporters and laying out their plans for the future. In particular, they intend to invest $400 million in state elections this year in an attempt to preserve their majorities in both houses. When it comes to disinformation, rumor, character assassination, and smear tactics, no Russian bots can hold a candle to the prowess of the Koch Brothers network. We can expect one of the most bruising political campaigns of all time to take place over the next 7 months.

Warren Buffett just announced that the new tax bill put $29 billion in his pocket. Charles and David can expect to net at least that much, maybe more, which makes their $400 million dollar investment a particularly good deal for them. A big part of their agenda is protecting the investment they have already made in buying Supreme Court justices. They have every intention of stocking the federal and state courts with their disciples.

Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch are all Stepford judges who were nurtured by the Federalist Society. In the memo, the Kochs say they will pull out all the stops to get another dutiful soldier who will faithfully carry out their orders on the court. “If President Trump nominates a principled, constructionist nominee for Justice Kennedy’s seat or any other vacant seat, we anticipate engaging with both grassroots and under-the-dome tactics, bringing paid and earned media and events to support the confirmation,” the memo states.

That memo goes on to say the application of suasion by the Koch network (translation: money) was enough to convince three Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana — to cast votes in favor of Neil Gorsuch.

What does any of this have to do with clean tech? Only this. The Kochs were behind the decision by the #FakePresident to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accords. They are also fierce opponents of the Clean Power Plan and have backed the repeal of a raft of federal regulations on pollution and exploitation of public lands by private companies, including fuel economy standards for motor vehicles. They advocate against any policies that favor renewable energy, especially rooftop solar for private homes. If they have their way, America will still be using coal and fossil fuels to power its economy — what’s left of it — far into the future.

The Koch Brothers stand as a symbol of everything that is wrong with America today. “We’ve made more progress in the last five years than I had in the last 50,” Charles Koch has reportedly said. “The capabilities we have now can take us to a whole new level.” It doesn’t take a Ph.D in mathematics to connect the dots between the Citizens United decision and the accelerated pace of Koch Brothers actions. That one moment in time removed all constraints on political spending, with the result that America at the federal, state, and local level is now for sale to the highers bidder. Everyone knows it and those leading the parade don’t even bother to disguise their motives and objectives any longer.

While driving today, I was listening to National Public Radio. One of the Republican candidates for governor of Georgia was telling the interviewer that Delta Airlines will be severely punished for cancelling its discount fares for NRA members. He said when he is governor, only those who are right thinking Americans who love liberty and the Second Amendment can expect favorable treatment from the state of Georgia.

That really offended me, partly because those words are straight out of the Koch Brothers playbook and partly because it implies that anyone who does not embrace the radical interpretation of the Second Amendment put forth by the NRA cannot be a true American and lover of liberty. I thought liberty meant being able to accommodate those with differing opinions, but in the coming Kochotopia, that is clearly not the case.

Which means I could be subject to prosecution, forfeiture of my property, or incarceration for refusing to kowtow to the hatred and bigotry that permeates all of the Koch Brothers activities. As I recall, that is the same sort of thinking that led to the incarceration of Jews, gypsies, and other undesirables in Germany in the 1930s. It is the same thinking that permitted the internment of Japanese Americans and the ongoing persecution of all native Americans, or at least those whose ancestors survived the Jackson presidency.

What to do? Vote. The ability to vote is rapidly disappearing for all except white Americans. For all practical purposes, the Koch Brothers agenda is founded on the racist culture that has been part of the American experience since the days of slavery, the Trail of Tears, Reconstruction, and the Jim Crow laws that permanently stained the American south.

Vote for progressive candidates regardless of party affiliation or endorsement. Democrats are already eating their young by running smear campaigns against first time candidates energized by the last election because they believe they are too progressive. The party thinks the path to taking back the House and the Senate is to not let people with radical new ideas — like a Constitutional amendment to repeal Citizens United — on the ballot.

Baloney. Vote your conscience. Encourage your friends to vote. Offer to transport people in your community to the polls. Knock on doors. Write letters to the editor. Get involved. Go to political events and ask pointed questions of the candidates.

America has one chance to reverse its precipitous downhill slide. If the Koch Brothers and their minions maintain their death grip on our government, we are doomed to become a second or third rate country. Don’t let that happen. Get angry. Get energized. Get off your couch and get involved.  And always keep this thought in mind: Activism is equal parts love and anger.

Help us, citizens of America,  you’re our only hope.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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