(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch spent $122 million in political donations in the 2012 campaign season. Recent reports say the brothers plan to spend $300 million in 2014. We examine the actions and motivations of the Koch brothers and their influence in national politics.

Watch a trailer for "Citizen Koch":

Guests:
Tia Lessin, co-director and producer of the film "Citizen Koch"
Ken Vogel, chief investigative reporter for Politico and author of "Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp - on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics"

  • Lance

    I’d like to hear the guests thoughts on the influence of, “The Powell Manifesto”.

    • joedog

      I’d like to hear George Soros being treated the same way as the Kochs. Since the only difference between them seems to be what issues and candidate they support,

      This program is evidence of blatant “liberal bias”. Perhaps those who want to demonize the Kochs should have to pay for air time on a commercial station in order to air such one-sided political infomercial.

      • Another Mike

        The Koch Brothers’ piles of petcoke are currently blowing around the South Side of Chicago, damaging the lungs of its citizens. George Soros does not similarly seem to be wrecking the health of any individual Americans.

        • joedog

          We are talking about how people spend their money in the political arena, not how they make it.

          Of course, the obvious question raised by your allegation is why Chicago’s own political leaders have not addressed the problem. Could it be that the Kochs are paying enough money to the Chicago Democrat party political machine to buy them off?

          • Another Mike

            The Koch Brothers are spending their money as an investment so they can continue to harm Americans.

      • Whamadoodle

        It’s okay, joedog–we’re used to the Americans for Prosperity army of mildly-paid spammers parachuting in to scream “George Soros!” Even the panelist was wise to it.

      • Lance

        You’ve missed the point. When monetary influence is allowed to buy legislation irrespective of who has been voted into office, we as a nation are no longer a Republic.

        As for how the terms liberal and conservative are being thrown around. You and many other people really need to take refresher on both definitions. You’ll find, that maybe, just maybe, you like many others will find themselves espousing values from both philosophies.

        • joedog

          How am I “missing the point” if I declare that a discussion about the detrimental impact of money in politics needs to look at how money from any side of the issue impacts politics, rather than simply demonizing those who give money to support one side?

          I can confidently say that I am a moderate or centrist.

          I can sometimes be extreme in my defense of children, small animals, liberty, civil rights, and the Constitution.

          When I am in the bay area, many people describe me as “conservative” (if they are civil enough to limit themselves to such terms), yet when I am in the South, where I attended University and spent several years of my working life, I am suddenly labelled as “liberal”.

          In some areas, I tend more totwards the “libertarian-right” that is often inaccurately described as “conservative” than the “totalitarian-left” that is mistakenly labelled “liberal”, except on social issues, where I am much more open-minded (classically “liberal”)..

          For example, I believe in the inherent need for a free society to have public education. However, I also realize that it is the fundamental responsibility of the parent to provide their child’s education, with the public schools providing specialized services to support those efforts. I see that the best public education in today’s America is often provided by charter schools, with less bureaucratic overhead and more local control.
          As another example, involving an issue that is part of the “money in politics” discussion, I believe that unions are sometimes necessary to represent workers and even to “protect” workers from management.. However, I also see a problem where in some/many unions, the union management are preying on the workers as much as – if not more so – than the corporate managers are. I also do not believe that a union where workers are forced to join will have the proper incentive to actually work for the workers.

          For science, I am more likely to wait for more proof before taking drastic and costly action, and distrust what seem like biased observations and conflicting conclusions, making me much more of a classical “conservative”.

          Environmentally, I am a pragmatic conservationist, which is an inherently conservative viewpoint.

          • Lance

            You’ve repeated what I just said, that affiliation doesn’t matter.

            In this case though, the Koch brothers were used as an example, which happened to be part of one of the guests projects. No one is excusing others in the business community that abuse their positions.

            As for labeling, this is something people just need to learn to move away from, and focus on the values to drop region issues.

            For your bias statement, there is always bias. It just doesn’t deserve poor labels.

            Instead you could have raised the question, “why didn’t Forum try to find someone else to represent Citizen’s United and the business community?”

            The lack of representation of an opposing view should have been the main gripe in your post.

          • joedog

            “The lack of representation of an opposing view should have been the main gripe in your post.”

            No. I wasn’t griping that they didn’t have anyone to defend the Koch brothers. I was pointing out that they should really have been going after billionaires who use their money to influence politics – regardless of their political stripe.

            The fact that the program – and several of those commenting here – want to willfully ignore and even deny that this is a problem that occurs with both “right” and “left” wing billionaires, while focusing solely on those on the “right” shows a bias that favors the “left”.

            Such political bias at KQED/NPR taints all of the reporting on the station, just as many feel that the bias in the commentary segments of Fox News taints their news reporting.

  • Ben Rawner

    Isn’t this conversation a moot point because the Supreme Court just ruled effectively unlimiting campaign contributions. Their tea party far right spending will probably fragment the Republican Party. Do your guests agree?

  • Ben Rawner

    Could ur guests discuss the Koch brother anti-union stance. Are they not similar to those barrens of the late 19th century.

    • Robert Thomas

      Getting an “up” vote for this post… magnificent.

    • joedog

      Do modern American unions even bear any resemblance to those of the late 19th Century? Back then, unions fought to protect the workers from unsafe labor conditions, and unscrupulous bosses. Now, unscrupulous union bosses fight the workers and demand that they support unsafe politicians.

      • Robert Thomas

        My late father’s affiliation was with the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters, Local 393. It’s pretty modern and works to protect and advocate for its members and their families. My father was latterly a founder of and an instructor at the Specialized Industrial Pipe Trades Training Center on Commercial Street in San Jose, a 100.000 square foot campus featuring 48 classrooms and laboratories – among the largest, most comprehensive and modern building trades instruction facilities in the nation. That’s what they do.

        • joedog

          In modern America, the majority of union employees are government employees.
          In 2008, when several teachers on my campus were assaulted by students, and many others lived in fear of out of control, criminal gangmembers on our campus, the CTA refused to support efforts by members of the local union to get the school administration to improve workplace safety. The CTA told our local officers that “the most important thing right now is to elect Obama”. Workers who were members of their own union were being threatened and attacked, and the priority of the union was to elect a candidate who had never done anything to actually support teachers, and have no indication that he ever would.
          Private sector unions are a dying breed, and many workers no longer feel that they are needed, now that we have (thanks in large part to the unions of old) OSHA and other labor laws that routinely provide protections that once had to be fought for. This is very different from the late 19th century, when unions were vibrant and necessary, and before the widespread introduction of organized crime elements into the unions during Prohibition, leading to widespread corruption in some unions, and a further disconnect from the workers that they supposedly represent..

          • Robert Thomas

            Wherever people accept and abet and tolerate or even prosper by or participate in organized crime themselves or ignore it among their neighbors, their civil institutions are likely influenced the same way.

            Many people feel no requirement that their children be inoculated against disease until they see them fall ill.

            It sounds to me like the teachers on your campus could have benefitted from having a union.

  • Robert Thomas

    Since I’ll always vote the proper way, the way that I judge to be the best, no matter what the Koch brothers or George Soros think or say or do, the problem here seems to be the views and actions of other, stupid people.

    What is to be done about these other, stupid people?

    • Ben Rawner

      Sadly they will likely always remain stupid. If fools are so easily influenced y what they see on TV or read on the web. Are we not the fools because we think they can make the right decisions?

      • Robert Thomas

        You and Plato and Ruhollah Khomeini are right, democracy is a fraud. We’re doomed.

    • joedog

      Educate them to be critical thinkers, with active minds that question what is presented, and have the skills to research and find facts, so they can make up their own minds.

      • Robert Thomas

        That “critical thinking” thing is good, I believe. I hear it extolled all the time and it’s clearly a well-supported assertion. A small minority are skeptical but on on the whole it seems utterly reasonable and well-settled to concur it’s a good idea to promote this.

        Also, passing high school chemistry and freshman Introduction to Statistics would be good.

        • joedog

          Unfortunately, the NEA and current administration prefer to have schools politically indoctrinating young people, rather than teaching them critical thinking skills.

          • Robert Thomas

            Best stick with stoichiometry for the combustion of octane and the utility of a chi-squared distribution, then.

  • Mark

    Why is it that David Koch is a producer for NOVA? I saw a documentary about quantum mechanics where he was credited as such. It seems odd that on the one hand, he seeks to influence the discussion on climate change in favor of his own business while on the other hand promoting science. It seems that if someone was curious enough to watch a show on quantum mechanics, they are curious about science in general and would reach the conclusion that climate change is indeed happening and is caused by humans. Is it just good PR?

    • Robert Thomas

      Because NOVA, like other similar productions, is perpetually broke. So, they take what ever money is offered, as long as the benefactor meets their tules limiting a donor’s interference.

      • Mark

        Thanks…and what does David Koch get out of it? A tax write off? Why does he on the one hand, support science by funding documentaries about quantum mechanics while on the other hand fighting climate change?

        • Robert Thomas

          Who knows? David Koch isn’t stupid. Perhaps (I think, many people believe), Koch believes that his name’s connection with NOVA inoculates his family’s name against being labeled “science denier”. The Kochs aren’t opposed to the Standard Model, as far as I’m aware.

    • joedog

      Perhaps because he is interested enough in science to realize that, while climate change is real, and has been for the entire life of the planet, “man made global warming” or “man made global cooling” are scientific theories based on computer models made with incomplete data sets, and are thus not actually “settled science”.

      • Robert Thomas

        All science is models based on incomplete data sets. Such “completion” is not a criterion for clear and convincing evidence for conclusions.

        • joedog

          Sorry, computer models based on knowingly skewed data sets, and which researchers will change or modify of they do not reach the conclusions desired by those paying for the studies.

          You can’t actually call it science if you are paid to find one answer, and ignore any other possibilities.

          • Robert Thomas

            You needn’t apologize to me for committing groundless, feckless, pusillanimous libel.

          • joedog

            Since I have done none of those things, of course I needn’t apologize to you.
            If you have been doing those things, then I still wouldn’t be the one who needs to apologize.

      • Mark

        Point taken…
        It seems to me, though, that there is more evidence and consensus among scientists to support man made climate change/global warming than there is to support string theory, yet that is what the show was about. In fact the show was about the mysterious nature of quantum mechanics.
        All in all, I think it’s good that the show exists at all…

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Those in the media on the left never seem to make much of an effort to highlight the George Soros’ and others liberals who pour tens of millions of dollars into left leaning causes in politics. Its always Charles and David Koch we hear about. Why?

    • joedog

      Because those on the left only support civil rights for those who fall into line with their own belief systems. They oppose free speech or expression by anyone who they disagree with.

    • Whamadoodle

      Because the Kochs give HUNDREDS of millions, and they lie about climate change, which is going to be a huge problem for our unfortunate children. They spend orders of magnitude more, on causes far more destructive to us. You don’t want to experience food riots caused by Koch brothers pollution and climate change, trust me (or ask an Arab Spring Egyptian, because food riots preceded those).

      • Robert Thomas

        I don’t know whether the Kochs have lied about climate change. Have they? I know that they don’t think climate change will lose them any money. And I know that they think its amelioration won’t make them any money.

        • Whamadoodle

          ?? Every single candidate they’ve donated to, that I’m aware of, has denied climate change or (only recently, now that they’ve been forced to admit it exists, finally) claimed that it’s not caused by human beings.

          • Robert Thomas

            In order for anyone to lie about global warming or its likely effects, they will have to hold some belief about it and then claim something contrary to the held belief. It’s perfectly possible to have no belief about the fact of global warming one way or the other and it’s certainly likely that the Kochs see no reason to be concerned by predictions of its likely effects, as they don’t care about food riots or about your children. They expect that their children will eat your children.

            The only ideology the Kochs have is the ideology of accumulation.

            It occurs to me that while the Kochs are successful, so are termites. Termites don’t require duplicity to thrive.

          • Whamadoodle

            In any case, their mammoth funding of climate change deniers is destructive to us, and constitutes the forwarding of a lie.

          • Robert Thomas

            “…the forwarding of a lie.” Is that a thing?

          • Whamadoodle

            Yes. And I don’t actually think that’s beyond the comprehension of ANYONE reading this.

          • Robert Thomas

            Then you mean the same as promotion or promulgation or abetting or furthering the substance of a lie. Okay.

            I was insufficiently prosaic trying to make my point. The question arises, “Why is [fill in this blank] singled out for scrutiny in this way?” If the answer is “Because he/she/it has the most deleterious effect”, that is well.

            If the answer is “Because he/she/it has malignant intent and employs evil stratagems” – e.g., “is a liar” – one merely guarantees dispute.

          • Whamadoodle

            “Then you mean the same as promotion or promulgation or abetting or furthering the substance of a lie.”

            In a nutshell!

          • joedog

            Exactly which “climate change” are you even talking about?

            The oncoming “Global Cooling” that “environmentalists” screamed was going to destroy us just s few decades ago, or the “Global Warming” that “environmentalists” screamed was going to have melted the icecaps and flooded us out already?

            Or, the “Global Climate Change” that naturally occurs during an interglacial period of a major ice age, which the planet is currently experiencing, and if we could warm the planet enough to keep from ending, would probably be a really good thing for humankind, and keep future generations from freezing/starving?

            Oh, wait, I just used one scientific theory based on observation (interglacial period of a major ice age), to put a different scientific hypothesis based on conjecture (man-made global warming) into perspective. .

          • Robert Thomas

            ZZZzzzzzz.

          • Whamadoodle

            The one caused by increased CO2, which SOMETIMES occurs naturally (but is terribly destructive and undesirable, and leads to mass extinctions when it is out of balance with the environment), but which also occurs artificially, through fossil fuel overuse (and is terribly destructive and undesirable and leads to mass extinctions when it is out of balance with the environment).

            Uh… dude… you are aware that the icecaps ARE melting, right?

            And that CO2 causes the general warming which causes that, according to (unlike global cooling) virtually EVERY scientific authority save maybe a dozen scientists on earth?

            Let me ask: are you reluctant to start your car for me, and suck the air straight out of the tailpipe for an hour straight? (Hint: PLEASE don’t actually do this.) No? Congratulations, joedog! You are a proud, card-carrying anti-fossil-fuel burning activist!

          • Whamadoodle

            You… you are aware that the icecaps ARE melting, aren’t you?

            And that, unlike Global Cooling, the melting of those ice caps due to fossil fuel overuse is agreed upon by almost ALL the scientists on earth?

            And that those same scientists believe that excess CO2 in the atmosphere can be either naturally-occurring, and cause mass extinctions, or artificially-occurring, and cause mass extinctions?

            Trust me–tailpipe smoke is NOT healthy to breathe. It’s just not.

  • cmizera

    I will never understand the uproar over private citizens spending their money as they wish. If Koch brothers want to legally support their world view, why are so many liberals aghast? Are the Koch brothers hitting too close to home (liberal agenda unsustainable and everyone knows this fact)? Besides, isn’t blowing a few hundred million each election cycle GREAT for the economy.

    • joedog

      It is because most “liberals” in modern America are not open to free speech, and do not respect the rights of others. What we now call “liberals” do not have a liberal or open-minded view, they are better described as “leftists” or even “fascists”, because of their totalitarian, statist views. But those terms are too blunt, raw, and honest, and bring complaints because they are “harsh”

      • Robert Thomas

        I’m a liberal. Good morning! How are you today?

        • joedog

          I’m above ground and breathing, and that’s always a good start.

      • geraldfnord

        What Fascism is, by someone who grew up with and believed in it:
        http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

        Please note that I never approved of leftists’ throwing-around ‘fascist’ when it wasn’t appropriate, which was most of the time…they tended to use it for militarist traditionalists, who are close, but not quite there, in particular they tended not to believe in a ‘corporate’ or ‘organic’ state (both words meaning the same thing in this context, that is the Nation as being like a physical body…terribly misunderstood, your body has no dictator,as surely as social insects don’t, either.). Such people tended to agree with freedom of speech, though, so long as it wasn’t too untoward, of which they and their friends were (co├»ncidentally) the best judges of what the law would allow. They also weren’t interested in killing the poor as in promulgating a world in which many of them would die, which is an improvement—the old Liberal party, as I mentioned earlier in these precincts, believed that laissez-faire would save more of the poor, but changed their mind when they didn’t think that were the case, indicating that they actually cared about the poor rather than the joy of being callous, the Sin of Sodom.

        I have no problem with views being shared with others; I do have a problem with the ability to promulgate those views’ being tied directly to the sort of disproportionately-held power that reflects our wealth distribution. I’ll also point out that the T.P. in their early stages spent a good chunk of their time attending Congress-people’s local meetings and shouting-down any attempt to talk about the A.C.A., damaging this most basic and local democratic institution. They were of course roundly criticised for this by their leadership….

        • joedog

          By bringing citizens to public meetings, and encouraging those citizens to speak, out against the ACA, the TEA party groups were engaging in local politics in the same way that other groups do. It is fairly routine for groups to try to pack their supporters into public meetings to influence the debate, and is one of the problems inherent in a democratic process.

          This is not nearly as damaging to democracy as, for example, Obama’s Secret Service arresting the Green Party Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates for peacefully protesting outside of the Presidential debates that they were denied entry into..

          One was done by a gathering of individual citizens, trying to outspeak/outshout the other side in a public forum. The other was done by agents of the state, acting on orders form those in power, trying to squelch dissenting speech, and denying public access to the forum.

          • Robert Thomas

            joedog, you use all-caps in “TEA” as though it stands for something. I’m surprised to learn it stands for anything, other than tea. I like tea.

            Is it like P.O.E. == “Purity Of Essence” == “Peace On Earth”?

          • joedog

            Yes, the letters do stand for something, as anyone who has payed any attention to politics for the past six years knows.

            “TEA” stands for “Taxed Enough Already”, and is also a reference to the Boston Tea Party, where patriots acted together to protest the policies of a government that failed to properly represent their interests.

            I’m glad that I could help overcome your ignorance about that issue.

          • Robert Thomas

            “Taxed Enough Already” – that’s clever! Imagine, thinking that up. And then, the tie-in with the historical deal and all.

            It’s a funny thing, though. I recall from my schooldays learning that those fellas in Boston harbor dressed themselves up as heathen and committed vandalism because – apologies such as Taxation No Tyranny, subsequently made by Dr Johnson notwithstanding – they felt that a British landowning subject’s mere physical location external to Britain was insufficient to deny him the franchise; it wasn’t identified with pasty malcontents long used to monopolizing political and economic resources who shake their rattles and blubber when in their fairly-represented minority they fail to get their own way.

          • joedog

            ” “Taxed Enough Already” – that’s clever! Imagine, thinking that up ”
            Even more “clever” is how they managed to get to the root of the ACA scam. First the administration denied that the ACA was a tax, claiming it was foolish of the TEA party to claim it was. Then, in order not to have it overturned by the SCOTUS, they switched and claimed that it WAS a tax, that they had known all along that it was a tax, and that you’d have to be an idiot not to have known it was a tax..

          • Robert Thomas

            Actually, no. Chief Justice Roberts decided all by hisself that the individual mandate was a tax Congress may levy. The ACA’s proponents are pleased it’s constitutional by way of one argument or another.

          • Whamadoodle

            You excuse the Tea Party’s shouting down of public debate? But I thought that you felt that sort of thing was “fascism”? So you’re okay with it if it’s Tea Partiers. This inconsistency is a giveaway; you are paid to post by Americans for Prosperity or a similar group, correct?

          • joedog

            I don’t excuse it. I accept that it sometimes happens in a public debate.*

            I say it’s fascism when the state uses force to prevent people from being able to participate in public debate.

            Those are two very different things.

            As to being some sort of paid shill. No, only your paymaster wastes money that way (and, frankly, they should be demanding a refund). So, once again, you are incorrect.

            *You do realize that most internet forums have a “shout down those you disagree with” function built in to them? When you give someone’s comment a “thumbs down” it can result in their comment being removed from view – the internet equivalent to “shouting them down”.

          • Whamadoodle

            “As to being some sort of paid shill.”

            Uh, yeah–not MUCH you’re not.

          • joedog

            Again with the false accusations.

            Just wondering though, how does that line of work pay? By the post you write? By the word you write? By the keystroke you make? By the “thumb”? By the personal insult you write? Or is it hourly or salaried? Do you get medical? Dental and vision?

      • Whamadoodle

        Hm, that’s funny–it seems to me that the fascists:

        1) hated labor unions just as the Kochs do, which is why Hitler outlawed them and replaced them with the Reich Labor Front, ruled by his appointee and forbidden to negotiate for higher wages;

        2) started wars of aggression, which America’s right has championed often;

        3) deficit-spent wildly on military expansion during peacetime, which America’s right has championed often;

        4) reduced any social welfare spending unrelated to warmaking;

        5) were xenophobic and hated people of a certain other religion (Islam today, Judaism then), the “wrong kind of immigrants” (Mexican undocumented immigrants today, eastern Europeans then), people of other races, and gays;

        6) enjoyed imprisoning huge numbers of their own citizens, in conditions as torturous as possible; and

        7) speaking of which, championed torture.

        Sounds pretty right-wing-friendly to me!

        • joedog

          Actually, what makes them “fascists” is that they collected power to the state, and increasingly place more and more power into the hands of a single executive.
          Much as Obama has done while occupying the White House.

          Let’s look at your list:
          1) The Kochs have outlawed the unions? That’s news.
          2) Both Democrat and Republican administrations have started “wars of aggression”. Both Democrats and Republicans have voted for these wars, notably Iraq and Afghanistan.
          3) Deficit spending has been popular with both parties, both while controlling the White House, and while controlling Congress.
          4) The last major and meaningful cutbacks to welfare were during the Clinton administration, and were achieved through bipartisan efforts of a Democrat administration and a Republican Congress – although B.J. did try to take all the credit.
          5 and 6) The last American President to put a minority group into concentration camps was Democrat hero FDR.
          7) Use of “harsh interrogation techniques” on enemy combatants taken in battlefield conditions has been done under Republican and Democrat administrations. Torture of innocent American citizens (i.e. treatment of those trapped in the Davidian Compound) has been conducted by Democrat administrations.

          So, by your own definitions, not only are you labeling the Democrats as being “fascists”, but as being bigger “fascists” than Republicans. Now that’s funny.

          • Whamadoodle

            “Actually, what makes them ‘fascists'” Uh–according to whom? No historical source that I’ve read, EVER, and I’ve read many, says that “it’s the concentration of power into the hands of a single individual, but it’s NOT xenophobia, anti-union, anti-dissent, torture, mass imprisonment, and a war-based economy.” Who claims that?

            Anyway, the things I mentioned make the right fascistic because they were integral to both our right wing, and the early-20th-century fascist movement, not because joedogwhoever doesn’t want them to be part of fascism. These are things the fascists did. You can’t get out of admitting that. And they’re the whole reason WHY we hated fascism.

            1) Um, yeah, which is why I didn’t SAY they did. I said the Kochs hate unions like the fascists did. And they do. Just like the fascists.
            2) Yep, Democrats sure do too–and they’re just as wrong when they do. I don’t excuse them, but they are often guilty of the fascistic tendency of warmongering as the GOP and Tea Party surely are. Will you be man enough to admit the same thing I just did?
            3) Ditto. But I stress that I said deficit-spending FOR WARMAKING. That, again, is a fascistic tendency, because it’s what the fascists did. It was the entire lynchpin of fascism: identifying outsiders and internal dissenters as The Enemy, and then making a war machine. That WAS fascism.

            4) Do you deny that America’s right wing is TRYING to cut welfare spending as much as possible? Wow, so you want it to remain the same or increase? Who knew? Um, I’m pretty sure America’s right wing is trying as hard as Hitler did (and succeeded) to cut it.

            5) As above–Definitely a shame that FDR did that. I sure don’t excuse that. You deny, however, the xenophobia mentioned? You’re telling me you’re unaware of the “war on marriage” stuff from the right wing (I don’t know any Democrats campaigning on a gay-bashing ticket), or that it’s Fox News who spend the most time on the “Muslim Menace”?
            6) You’re denying that your side is proud to be “tough on crime” and imprisoning (and making money from) the 2 million Americans imprisoned today? Wow–so the right wing wants clemency and wants fewer people imprisoned? Huh–tell me, where are the voices of that right wing? Can you quote me this mass movement of right wingers against mass imprisonment? Can you quote ANYONE from the right saying so?
            7) Uh… get serious, pal. Dick Cheney spent ALL his Vice Presidency, and all the time after it, doing NOTHING but ensuring people get tortured. (Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, spent all his time after office eradicating a painful parasite from Africa, among other things.) Fox News is all in favor of that, too, and so are America’s right wing. “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.”

            Dishonest. You KNOW that this sort of xenophobia, gay-bashing, union-bashing, and push to warmaking and torture are exactly what your side stands for. (Again, when Democrats stand for it? YES, I say they’re fascist, too, when they do.)

            Do you admit that? If not, do you say to me that xenophobia, muslim-hating, gay-bashing, non-defensive warmaking and runaway military spending, and torture, are wrong? Or do you admit they’re exactly what you stand for?

          • joedog

            You continue to confuse what fascism is, with what some famous fascist regimes have done. Does your dictionary of governments also say that Democracies (or Representative Democracies) also must include these things, since we have agreed that they have occurred in non-fascist countries?

            1) Dislike for corrupt unions does not make someone a Nazi. Just like your dislike for America does not make you Osama bin Laden.

            2) I don;t think that the TEA party groups have come out with any kind of national consensus about invading any other countries.

            3) Virtually every war in the past several centuries (at least) has included deficit spending. Some countries manage to spend more than they take in even without war, or while drawing down and weakening their military forces. How many trillion in deficit spending have we had under Obama?

            4) All reasonable and compassionate human beings want to cut welfare spending as much as possible – heck, we want to make it unnecessary! We want people to have jobs, not welfare. Who wants to have a permanent underclass of poor people dependent on the government for everything, and willing to vote the way the government tells them. Oh, wait, that’s the democrat strategy.

            5) It is the Democrats who see political gain from Balkanizing America. Under President Obama, we have a much more racially divided nation than we used to. Time and again, he has used the bully-pulpit to advance racially divisive ideas, and promote race hatred. Under Eric Holder, the DOJ has been more racist than at any time since the 1960s.
            I have not heard of any Republican or TEA parry leader who opposes legal immigration. Both groups tend to praise the accomplishments of legal immigrants, and the ways that legal immigrants strengthen our nation.
            Both Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton campaigned with a “traditional marriage” message as late as the 2008 election cycle. Many conservatives would be okay with domestic partnerships that are the same as marriage in everything but name, because they fear that there will be government interference in churches, forcing churches to perform “marriages” that go against the beliefs of the church, church leaders, or church congregation. There are others who are not happy that these changes are not happening at the ballot box – where they would use the democratic process to show that this is an idea whose time has come, but are being imposed by activist courts, in ways that lead to confusing and conflicting law.
            Many liberals/leftists seem to have a pathological hatred of Christians, as well as “white people”, and Europeans.

            6) There are many people on the right who very publicly and vocally want to decrease the number of people in our prisons. They have worked for decades to get convicted murderers and rapist executed for their crimes. ­čśë

            Oh, yeah – there’s a huge difference between putting convicted criminals in jail, after a fair and public trial, and just locking people up – like the Green Party candidates were locked up by federal agents for standing outside the 2012 Presidential debates, hoping to get interviewed by a tv station or two.

            7) I thought the liberal story was that Dick Cheney was the brains of the outfit and pulling the strings throughout the Bush/Cheney years. Can’t your handlers get your script straight?

            No xenophobia here – I’ve lived in several countries, and traveled to more. Love different cultures and people.
            Muslim hating? I’ll have a good laugh at that one with my Halal butcher.
            Gay bashing? Lots of LGBT friends will also find that attack amusing.
            Non-defensive warmaking? Yeah, I think it was good that we went to war with Nazi Germany – don;t you?
            Runaway military spending? Wehn we are cutting troop strength, pay and benefits, equipment,, and services for veterans, I’d hardly call that “runaway” spending – unless you mean the spending has run away, and just isn’t there any more.
            Torture? No, I don;t think Janet Reno should have played dying rabbit sounds at super-high volumes outside of the homes of those poor kids (many of whom were multiracial) before incinerating them (I don;t think she should have incinerated them and their families, either).

            So far you’re totally striking out on trying to determine what I stand for.

            Please have your handlers check your facts.

            Oh, yeas, and please lay off the personal attacks, as well. Just because the facts aren’t on your side, it doesn’t excuse your rudeness.

    • geraldfnord

      Uh, I don’t know that, so it’s not ‘everyone’; you should have said ‘sane people’ or ‘decent people’ or ‘people not beholden to the Space Masons’. It’s one thing to be wrong in your views, it’s another and worse to be deluded into thinking that they are universally held, or that they are not views at all but rather ‘facts’.

      Getting to your actual point: as climate-change deniers like to remind us, knowledge of reality does not necessarily follow majority opinion. In a democracy, persuading people matters, and the most effective modes of persuasion are the ones with the least to do with rationality. (Hence, beer will make bikinied models try to pick you up, or your co-workers more than bearable.) In particular, evolution as social beings without much imagination in the Old Days has prepared us to accept as true that which we hear most, not a bad strategy on the Plains but so here and now. If a crowd of people mostly just have their own voices, victory has a better chance of going to those who own megaphones and Tannoys, and there are those of us who don’t believe that competence in acquiring the money necessary to their purchase maps well into ability to judge what were best. That there is a smaller sample-size of such loud voices doesn’t speak well for low error rates…you probably agree with me on this in the case of Messrs Soros, Buffett, and Gates…..

      • joedog

        Thank you for acknowledging that this as a bipartisan issue, and putting thought into analyzing the reasons why big money is so influential.

    • Whamadoodle

      Because they’re forwarding candidates who advance environmentally destructive policies and deny climate change, which is destroying us.

      • Robert Thomas

        People should vote against those candidates.

        • Whamadoodle

          Indeed they should.

      • joedog

        So what you are saying is that because you disagree with what they say, you want to deny them the right to free speech?

        I guess that it’s also okay with you for other rights to be violated, as long as you don;t like the people who are being victimized? What about putting people into internment camps based on their skin color or ancestry? Is that cool with you, as long as they are people you don;t like,or don’t agree with?
        Denying people the right to vote, based on skin color? Is that cool with you – as long as they have a different viewpoint than you do?

        • Whamadoodle

          No, and please refrain from putting words in my mouth, paid-spam guy, thanks very much.

          What I AM saying is that Money Is Not Speech. Therefore, elections shouldn’t be bought by the guy with the most money, like Larry Ellison buying a win in the America’s Cup. Each of us should get ONE vote, and a poor black person should get the same amount of speech as a rich white one. You have a problem with that?

          Or is it cool with you that black people aren’t allowed to buy as many votes (since African-Americans, by percentage, control WAY less American money than white Americans do) as white Americans can under Citizens United?

          • joedog

            I didn’t puut words into your mouth, I just repeated to you the same message you have been writing – and you didn’t like to be confronted by the truth.

            Money may not be speech, but it sure allows speech to reach a broader audience. I can’t afford my own radio or tv station, so I guess that no one else should be allowed to own one either, right – because that just allows people rich enough to buy a radio or tv station to have “more” speech?

            Not sure about the America’s Cup, but I know that sports teams with larger budgets can pay for better players and coaches, better training facilities and equipment, etc. Does that mean that they “buy” their wins? Or, was there an actual exchange of money, as commonly happens in politics, to buy the officials?

            Thanks for bringing black and white into this. But what is your point? I mean, other than to show that you are a racist (or, at best, are a person handicapped by being trapped in a racist world view)?

            Rich black people can buy more influence than poor white people. It is money that counts in a “pay for play” game like buying advertising – money, not skin color. The Obamas have more money than any white people I personally know. – does that mean that all my white friends are somehow being discriminated against? I doubt it.

            Since there are two Koch brothers, shouldn’t they get twice as many votes as George Soros?

            As to how much speech a person can get, how much speech was allowed to the Green Party Presidential candidate when they were not only excluded from participating in the presidential debates, but were arrested by federal agents for trying to hold a press conference outside of the debates, and get a few seconds of airtime on the news? Are we blaming the Koch’s for that? How about Romney? Maybe blame Bush? How about looking at who the federal cops work for, and holding those people accountable for denying free speech? That would be Eric Holder and President Obama, in just another of their abuses of power.

            Do you realize how much taxpayer subsidized and free advertising incumbents get?

            Buying votes? Why would you think that I would approve of illegal Democrat tactics like buying votes? Buying votes is illegal.

            Note: I also don’t believe in voting for dead people, casting ballots for the mentally ill, voting more than once in the same election,voting illegally in a country where I am not a legal resident, or voting under a false name.

      • joedog

        Do you drive a car?
        Do you use electronic devices that are powered from the grid?
        Do you eat food that is delivered in trucks?
        Do you fly to different places for business or vacations?
        Do you use water that is piped into your residence or workplace?
        Are you using a computer to send in your message – even though the computer is made up of parts that require some environmentally destructive processes to manufacture?
        Have you had children?
        Do you smoke (any substance)?
        Do you support celebrities and politicians who have a huge carbon footprint?
        Do you breathe and exhale?

        Congratulations, if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then YOU are contributing to climate change.

        • Whamadoodle

          That’s right–that’s good talking-point spewing you’re doing there, joedog! Straight from the manual, eh?

          Yes, you’re right, joedog, I DO drive a car; however 1) it is an ultra-high-mileage car, and 2) for five years, I drove no car at all; and 3) I take public transit and walk, several times per week, to minimize my auto use.

          No, I have no children.

          No, I smoke no substance.

          When I fly, I buy carbon offsets.

          Therefore, I do my best to REDUCE the amount of climate change I am creating, to the absolute minimum possible. Any time you want to merely ask, I am happy to say to you that 1) no, one cannot do COMPLETELY without polluting fossil fuels, and — derr! nice screaming point — nobody can do without breathing, but 2) one can do MORE to minimize them.

          Since you acknowledge by your post that human-caused climate change is occurring, and is destructive, you disagree with the Kochs on that point? And are YOU doing what you can to minimize your contribution to global climate change? It doesn’t sound like it. It sounds as if you’re being paid to bring sound and fury to distract from it and make out that it’s okay.

          • joedog

            I do not believe that human caused climate change is occurring – I merely point out that since YOU do, YOUR behaviors should be consistent with that belief before you go around attacking others for doing the same things that you do. You demand that others do as you say, to fit your beliefs, yet you yourself admit that you don’t do everything you could.

            I do not believe that humans are causing global climate change. I believe that human activities that change temperatures locally or “liberate old carbon” are offset by other, natural activities. You evidently also believe this, or you would not accept a “carbon offset” as a valid idea.

            I do believe that we do things that are harmful to the environment, especially in local or regional areas, and that some of these things unbalance natural corrective cycles. I am a conservative user of power, water, and other resources, and try to minimize my own environmental footprint. Additionally, I volunteer with and contribute financially to, groups that work to preserve and restore natural habitats. This fits both my scientific and spiritual views. Put me up against a group of “man-made climate change” believers, and I will probably have a lower carbon footprint than 2/3rds of them, not because I believe in “man-made global warming” or “man-made global cooling”, but because I believe that we are supposed to be stewards of our environment, so that future generations of human beings can enjoy living on our planet.

            How many more times are you going to make your unfounded and offensive alegations that I am somehow being “paid” to post here? I have already told you that you are incorrect in that assumption, yet you persist in these attacks.
            If it is a “talking point” to say that negatives about both sides/parties should be looked at in a political discussion, then I’d like to know where that comes from, since both sides/parties generally want to hide their own negatives.

          • Whamadoodle

            You lie. I just got done saying, and saying clearly, that I DO do everything I can to reduce my own contribution to global climate change.

            You lie.

          • joedog

            You obviously don’t do everything you could do to reduce global climate change. You may do everything you are comfortable doing, but that;s not the same thing at all.

            Be honest.

          • Whamadoodle

            Forgive me, sir–when someone lies to me, his words are worthless, and his word is worthless. People like that do not receive any more of my time. Others may speak with you further, if they wish, but I’ll let you have the last word and take my leave of the conversation now. Have a nice life.

          • joedog

            You seem to be saying that your words are as worthless to yourself as they are to everyone else you lie to and about. That;s a bad place to find yourself.

            I find it sad that you suddenly claim to care about honesty, when you have been lying and making false claims about me throughout the thread.

            I’m sorry that you are unwilling to be honest with others. I’m really sorry that you are not able to be honest with yourself.

        • Another Mike

          Climate change is caused by liberating fossil carbon into our current ecosystem. Any non-fossil carbon released through burning or exhalation can be incorporated back into plants.

  • joedog

    What;s the point of talking about the problems of big money in politics when you focus only on those who give to campaigns and causes you disagree with?

    Where is your outrage at George Soros, Public Employee Unions, Bloomberg, and others who spend millions of dollars to support “liberal” and “progressive” causes, often using similar strategies/loopholes to those used by the Kochs?

    When a person or group can buy coverage of areas of interest on NPR or PBS, that is money influencing politics, yet it is quite common to hear, on NPR the phrase “Funding is provided by group x for coverage of issue y”. Would it be any different if the Morning Edition announcer said “Funding is provided by the National Rifle Association for coverage of Second Amendment civil rights issues”?

    The hypocritical and partisan nature of your station and program are made very clear by programs such as this one – but do you report it to the FEC as an “in kind” campaign contribution to Democrat candidates?

    • geraldfnord

      I’m sure they would accept funding from the N.R.A., and in fact I believe I’ve heard some public radio programme or another mention that it takes money from David Koch’s foundation.

    • Whamadoodle

      Nice talking point regurgitation, but the Kochs’, ALEC’s, and other right-wing money DWARFS the expenditures of all those you mention. I think you know this.

  • DanoseKnows

    David Koch funds a number of PBS Science programs. Since PBS educates us, our kids and teachers, how can we trust the “science”” coming from Kochs? Especially when it comes to Climate Change?

    • Robert Thomas

      You can’t, if you don’t trust the integrity of the producers of these programs.

    • geraldfnord

      We can see if it basically jibes with all the science stemming from funding not from the Kochs.

  • jdoubleu

    “All politics is LOCAL.” The Koch brothers can donate anywhere, but they can only vote once (locally) …as was proven by Cantor’s loss. When Pelosi was Speaker of the House, she would fly into town on her private 757 and walk into Sunday Mass with 6-7 Secret Service body guards. Like Cantor, she only speaks-up about national issues and clearly has forgotten she was elected to represent her LOCAL neighbors. (I haven’t voted for her since.) Donations don’t matter if the Representative forgets they’re elected to serve the people from their ‘hood.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    I am listening to the gentleman talk about all these moderate Republicans who do not like this or that of the Koch brothers but NO specifics!! What specifically do these moderates not like? Be specific!

    • Whamadoodle

      They mentioned a group that dissents from the party line on gay rights; former Republican Bruce Bartlett has dissented about Keynesianism; and of the 99% of scientists who agree that global climate change is caused by human beings, it is statistically impossible that all the world’s scientists are Democrats.

      • geraldfnord

        But those scientists who agree with the majority must be doing it because they are stupid and/or insane and/or evil, and surely everyone knows that only Democrats can answer to one of those seven (if ordering doesn’t count…fifteen[?] if it does) descriptions.

        Obviously*.

        *…which differs from ‘obliviously’ only by the letters ‘l’ and ‘i’, which as an escapee from Long Island pleases me.

        • Whamadoodle

          Or because they–all of them, the entire scientific community except 1%–and ALL the governments of the western world, who agree on climate change being human-caused, must have been paid to do so. Though no such funding has ever been uncovered.

          Uh, yeah, sure–according to the people who ARE being paid by Americans for Prosperity and like organizations–which are explicitly, admittedly created in order to spread paid propaganda in favor of climate change denial, and against environmental regulations.

    • joedog

      These are “Republicans” who are more interested in personal gain and holding on to power than in representing their constituents, or preserving “traditional Republican values”. In short, the “sell outs” who are threatened by an element within their own party that pays attention to more than just the R behind their name on the ballot, and wants to hold them accountable for their votes.

      A lot of politicians get to Washington and fall into the trap of the perqs of power and low grade corruption.

      It surprises me that the Kochs chose, and continue to choose, to support the TEA party wing of the republican party, rather than just following the more common practice of simply buying off the establishment party leaders.

  • geraldfnord

    My friends on the Left should look at the vitriol aimed at George Soros from the Right, in particular at how weak and afraid and silly it makes them look…not for the sake of giving the Bros any kind of pass, but simply to avoid making the same mistaken waste of energy and bad image-promulgation.

    Because in the final analysis, we are not yet in the plutocracy “libertarians”*, despite the good will of most of them, would likely bring us, and votes still count. The fault lies in ourselves, not in our stars, at least enough still to make a difference. I sometimes think that, much as is the case of accusations of voter fraud or voting machine rigging (quite possibly real though the second problem is, especially as compared to the first), the desire for a demon represents both laziness combined with an over-estimation of one’s fellow-citizens…surely they wouldn’t err so, some devil must be making them do it.

    Well, advertising and marketing tech. hasn’t reached the point where it really can control people well—that will have to wait until massive {biometric data}-monitoring and implanted biochemical controls give better levers into people, and that’s at least a decade away—so it is still so that people are manipulated to the extent that we let us be so.

    *I use the term in quotes because I believe they’d be responsible for a massive loss of liberty; beside that, the term was lifted from the anarcho-communists…as was ‘liberal’ by milk-and-water social democrats from Spencerian types, though there it was more a matter of the Liberal Party’s stalwarts’ changing as they decided that laissez-faire wasn’t good enough.

    I think they’d bring a plutocracy because If government can do nowt but defence and policing regardless who’s in, what room for difference can a vote make? And if all other power were in the Market, those dominating the Market, which I don’t believe will equilibrate to anything near the extent that Austrians and Friedmanians think it would, will have much more power, leaving the Earth

    • Robert Thomas

      I think I mostly agree, except with the part about voting machines. If you look at the chain of accounting of paper ballots, even the simple machines that are used to optically or physically read and tally paper ballots have employed embedded processing elements for decades, each such machine exposing vastly larger numbers of ballots to surreptitious manipulation than could ever be achieved by fiddling with polling-place devices. The integrity of our polls has always been dependent on the integrity and attention and diligence of our neighbors and fellow Americans who we charge with their custody.

      As for the “Big L” libertarian programme, they’re unlikely to ever bring us much of anything, as they perpetually consist only of affluent young males without children or matrimonial hindrance, concerned primarily with acquiring foolish partners willing to do the dishes and the laundry and to keep the refrigerator stocked with artisanal beer.

  • geraldfnord

    It’s heartening, in hearing of Mr Soros’ conviction, to hear a denizen of the hard Right evince so much respect and approval of the French legal system.

  • Another Mike

    What would the right do without George Soros, the one liberal billionaire, whose wealth is roughly half that of a single Koch Bro.?

    • Robert Thomas

      It would be a lot tougher slog.

    • geraldfnord

      And though it’s not as scarily furrin as ‘Vargo Hoat’, it surely does excite the Xenophobia Glands of their faction, which ‘Koch’ doesn’t, for some reason, perhaps they like ‘Ilsa’ movies more than I. (As if that sort of thing actually followed party lines; more likely, it’s just that believing is seeing, and the political Kochs could in fact be named ‘Gregor’ and ‘Sandor’ and they’d still like them.)

    • joedog

      Bloomberg gives a lot of money to liberal causes, no matter what political party label he chooses to affix to himself.

      • Another Mike

        Beyond being anti-gun, I do not know what other causes Bloomberg aligns himself with.

  • Another Mike

    We seldom hear that the Koch Brothers are the largest leaseholders of Alberta tarsands, and thus a major factor pushing the Keystone XL.

    • geraldfnord

      Oh, Canada.

      Good Murkins on guard against those millions of potential snowbacks and demi-Frogs, who will surely stream across the border after their sane health-care kills enough of them and their sane gun laws get them all mugged or worse and their sane banking restrictions impoverish the ones who are left! If the North were really ‘True’, we’d own it!

    • joedog

      We also seldom hear about the fact that one source of political funding against the Keystone pipeline is the owner of most of the railcars that would be replaced by the pipeline.

      • Another Mike

        Rail shipment adds $27 to the cost of a barrel of tarsands oil delivered to the Gulf, over what it would cost to ship by pipeline, making this bitumen even less attractive.

    • menloman

      ‘Seldom’ because it isn’t true. The real question is why it appears at all as well as why leftists such as yourself are so poorly informed?
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/03/22/are-the-koch-brothers-the-biggest-lease-holder-in-canadas-oil-sands/

      • Another Mike

        Not all of us read the Power Line Blog, whose proprietor’s employer has represented the Koch brothers’ firms in many complex matters, of which they boast on their website.

        But I would happily concede that the Koch Brothers are the largest US leaseholders of Alberta tarsands, and thus a major factor pushing the Keystone XL.

  • randyastr

    Money matters in politics mostly because we, The People, can’t communicate effectively on issues. We don’t know where We stand, collectively, so don’t know what our representatives SHOULD be doing. And there’s no way for our reps to report to us, so they listen carefully to donors.

    There’s an alternative. Develop a way for us to communicate effectively with each other and with representatives and challengers. PeopleCount.org is leading this effort. Join us.

    • Robert Thomas

      I keep up. As I wrote here elsewhere, it seems to be these other, easily swayed people who’re the problem.

      • randyastr

        Really? There are a few issues on PeopleCount.org. Vote on all of them and then tell me how many & what percent you kept up on. I’ve met a lot of people who say “I keep up”, yet it’s an impression, unjustified by measurements. It’s not your fault, it’s the way we’ve set up the system of media and issues.

        • Another Mike

          The alexa rank of PeopleCount.org is somewhere in the 8 millions. The largest source of PeopleCount.org visitors comes from FreeRepublic.com.

          Neither fact impresses.

          • Robert Thomas

            Sou desu ne.

          • randyastr

            You completely side-stepped the question, whether you “keep up” or it’s just a feeling you have. PeopleCount.org is in its infancy. Join me to make it “impressive”…

        • Robert Thomas

          Really? Is there a TonedeafMeter.org web site that can measure one’s acuity in detecting sophomoric sarcasm in a crummy chat board post?

          Okay. I composed the snark response above before accepting the challenge. I answered all of the questions. As I’m an enthusiast about Madison’s notes on the Federal Convention of 1787, I judged the Second Amendment questions in particular and the “political reform” questions in general – along with the accompanying explanatory notes – worthy of having been formed by a middle school dropout. That section was a push-poll burlesque. I consider a few of the site’s questions on tax policy to be uninteresting and a few others are obviously, embarrassingly out of date by a year or more (the “fiscal cliff” “pressing issues” were “pressed” and put away some time ago; we’ll see whether and how they’re dragged out of the closet again).

          Else, I was “up” on everything there.

          • randyastr

            Great, thanks. Yes, issues won’t get added/updated for a while (unless you’d like to help.) Yes, the questions are designed to be in simple language. I’m pleased you found only a few of the questions to be uninteresting!

    • geraldfnord

      Good, but I think we need to teach children from age how not to be manipulated by advertising above some minimum our Serengetic heritage imposes….

      • randyastr

        I agree, but it’s off-topic, and you suggest no method, whereas you can join and support PeopleCount.org now to help us make progress.

        The key to your topic is teaching introspection, teaching kids to recognize their reactions and see the meanings their minds make up during the reaction.

        And, seek out people who are doing both this and showing the lies in advertising. Make a kids book with real life examples, candies, cakes, birthday cakes, advertising of toys, maybe a video interviewing kids with what they thought from ads and what they thought after they got the toy to teach them skepticism. Illustrate the downside of equipping oneself in toys to act out fantasies, like how it shuts out other kids, vs playing fantasies without expensive equipment. Show the impact of how girls feel when they believe the ads about skinny. So next time, instead of saying, “we need to teach about this”, you can say, “we need to teach about this using materials from xyz”. Will you take that on?

  • Erik Frederiksen

    The most important aspect of Koch political influence is their funding of climate change denial which forestalls efforts scientists deem necessary to our very survival as a species. The intentional consigning of future generations to first hell on earth then extinction is a new category of crime, call it terricide?
    For this crime, the Kochs and their ilk deserve the harshest of punishments for this most despicable of crimes.

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