|JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo are two of the |
banks involved in the current negotiations. (photo:
New York Magazine)
- T.H.T PRESIDENCY 13
- T. H. T. PRESIDENCY 12
- T.H.T. PRESIDENCY 11
- THE HORRIBLE T. P. 10
- HORRIBLE TRUMP 9
- THE HORRIBLE TRUMP PAGE 8
- THE HORRIBLE TRUMP PAGE 7
- THE HORRIBLE TRUMP PRESIDENCY 6
- THE HORRIBLE TRUMP PRESIDENCY 5
- THE HORRIBLE TRUMP PRESIDENCY 4
- HORRIBLE TRUMP PRESIDENCY (THREE)
- THE HORRIBLE. PRESIDENCY (2)
- THE HORRIBLE TRUMP PRESIDENCY
- 911 Page Two
- THE 911 VIDEOS AND BASICS
- Rachel Maddow Podcasts
- MICHAEL COHEN HEARINGS COLLECTION
- THE JEFFERY EPSTEIN FILES
- THE CORBET REPORTS
- THE MISC. COLLECTION AND THE LIBRARY LINK
- SAVED STUFF
- SAVED STUFF 2
Monday, December 31, 2012
Sunday, December 23, 2012
The main thing that has held Republicans together philosophically is the belief in holding down taxes. Not one of them in Congress has voted for a significant increase in more than two decades. Now that very issue is tearing the GOP apart and making it an all-but-ungovernable majority for Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to lead in the House.
Disarray is a word much overused in politics. But it barely begins to describe the current state of chaos and incoherence as Republicans come to terms with electoral defeat and try to regroup against a year-end deadline to avert a fiscal crisis.
The presidential election was fought in large measure over the question of whether some Americans should pay more in taxes. Republicans lost that argument with the voters, who polls show are strongly in favor of raising rates for the wealthy.
But a sizable contingent within the GOP doesn’t see it that way and is unwilling to declare defeat on a tenet that so defines them. Nor are they prepared to settle for getting the best deal they can, as a means of avoiding the tax hikes on virtually everyone else that would take effect if no deal is reached. READ MORE
Friday, December 21, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
|Protesters marching with the social activist group CREDO|
Dec 18, 2012 4:45 AM EST
Americans anxious to join the fight for stricter gun-control laws in the wake of the Newtown school shooting are finding there isn’t much of a fight to join—and the NRA is supremely organized. David Freedlander reports.
Imagine you live in Connecticut, not far where the Sandy Hook massacre took place. Or, say, Oak Creek, Wisc., where a gunman shot and killed six at a Sikh temple in August. Or in Denver, Colo., near the Aurora movie theater, where 12 were shot in July.
Fed up, and maybe a little scared for your safety, you decide that something needs to be done. But what? You check out the nation’s most prominent gun control group, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, hoping to find an organization to join or at least some simple steps you can take immediately to join the fight—a march to attend, a congressman to pressure, news of legislation coming up before key committees in your local state legislature. For each state, the website gives you a generic form to fill out to contact your state chapter, which may be several towns over, a button to donate money to the group, and a link to learn about local gun laws.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
|President Barack Obama wipes his eye as he talks |
about the Connecticut elementary school shooting,
Friday, December 14, 2012, in the White House briefing
room in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Here is a list of every fatal mass shooting that’s taken place since January 1—defined as multi-victim shootings where those killed were chosen indiscriminately. The tragedies took place at perfectly random places—at churches, movie theatres, soccer tournaments, spas, courthouses and, now, an elementary school. But given the frequency of these awful events, perhaps in the long view their occurrence isn’t so random after all—it’s predictable. READ MORE
VOTE SMART ON GUN ISSUES
It is always tragic when a large number of people lose their lives, but it is worse when the deaths are of children. This is a list of ten of the worst massacres at schools.
10. Cologne school massacre 11 killed | 22 injured | Walter Seifert
9.The École Polytechnique Massacre 15 killed 14 injured | Marc Lépine | the worst school massacre in Canada’s history.
8. Columbine High School Massacre 15 died | 24 injured | Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold
7. University of Texas Clock Tower Shootings 18 killed | 31 injured | Charles Whitman
6. Dunblane massacre 18 killed | Thomas Hamilton | (the deadliest attack on children in United Kingdom history)
5. Erfurt massacre 17 killed | 7 injured | Robert Steinhäuser (Worst German Rampage)
4. Ma’alot massacre 26 killed | 60 wounded | DFLP, PLO | Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Palestine Liberation Organization
3. Virginia Tech 32 killed, many more injured | Seung-Hui Cho
2. Bath School disaster 45 died | 58 injured | Andrew Kehoe
1. Beslan school hostage crisis At least 386 dead, including 31 hostage takers | Over 700 injured | Shamil Basayev’s Riyadus Salihiin group
Addendum: Red Lake High School massacre 10 killed | 12 injured | Jeff Weise
Updated 11:50 am, Friday, December 14, 2012 from sfgate
|GET THE NEWS LETTER|
I sat in on a lecture, given in English, to maybe fifty or more young men and women at a college in Ramadi. They were all about 22 and 23 years of age, in their last year of a 5-year program. That means they were about 13 or 14 years old during the U.S. led invasion and beginning of the occupation. I was invited to speak by the president as an “honored guest” after the lecture. To my embarrassment the professor graciously hurried through his lecture on my account. I had everyone’s attention. It was awkward for me, and after introducing myself, I said I would be grateful to hear from them. There was only silence. I am sure my words sounded empty, trite and artificial.
Then a young man in the front row only a couple of feet from me said in a quiet voice “We have nothing to say. The last years have been only sad ones.” Again there was silence.
Sami, my host from Najaf and part of the Muslim Peacemaker Team, stood and shared. He told the story of how, after the U.S. bombing assaults on Fallujah, he and others came from the Shia cities of Najaf and Karbala, to carry out a symbolic act of cleaning up rubble and trash in the streets of Fallujah. This gesture, he said, melted hearts and healed some of the brokenness between Sunni and Shia. He spoke of the delegation of peacemakers from the United States who were just in Najaf for twelve days, of the work to build bridges and seek reconciliation.
An impassioned young woman from the middle of the lecture hall spoke up. It was obviously not easy for her. “It is not,” she said, “about lack of water and electricity [something I had mentioned]. You have destroyed everything. You have destroyed our country. You have destroyed what is inside of us! You have destroyed our ancient civilization. You have taken our smiles from us. You have taken our dreams!”
Someone asked, “Why did you this? What did we do to you that you would do this to us?”
Friday, December 14, 2012
In a special comment on Friday’s episode of “Moyers and Company,” the former press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson pointed out what he believes to be at the very core of corruption in Washington, D.C.: “the revolving door” between working in government and lobbying it. “[The] revolving…
The City of Baltimore recently issued a ticket to Daniel Doty for speeding 38 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone — but photos and video captured by the speed camera system showed that his car was stopped at a red light at the time. Doty told The Baltimore Sun that photos included with the ticket issued…
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Bloomberg has an article today highlighting the pay gap at McDonald’s. The whole piece is worth a read but the beginning is particularly striking. It highlights Chicago man Tyree Johnson, who holds positions at two different McDonald’s. Between shifts he has to give himself a quick scrubbing in one of the restaurant’s bathrooms because he can’t even show up for work at a McDonald’s smelling like a McDonald’s.
“I hate when my boss tells me she won’t give me a raise because she can smell me,” he said.
Johnson, 44, needs the two paychecks to pay rent for his apartment at a single-room occupancy hotel on the city’s north side. While he’s worked at McDonald’s stores for two decades, he still doesn’t get 40 hours a week and makes $8.25 an hour, minimum wage in Illinois.
This is life in one of America’s premier growth industries. Fast-food restaurants have added positions more than twice as fast as the U.S. average during the recovery that began in June 2009.Johnson’s circumstances look particularly grim when they’re compared, as Bloomberg does, to the compensation enjoyed by executives whose pay gives a whole new meaning to “McJob.”
There is something insidiously ironic about being American Indian during the fall of the 21st century. It all starts with Columbus Day to mark our “discovery,” then moves right into the “it’s totally not racist to dress up as a hypersexualized Indian” for Halloween parties, and goes out with a bang on Thanksgiving when we celebrate the survival of the Pilgrims and that harmonious, mutually beneficial relationship forged between colonizers and Indigenous peoples everywhere! However romanticized or factually inaccurate, these holidays happen to be the three days when Native peoples actually enter the mass psyche of American culture.
I don’t know about you, but I usually spend the autumn months parading around in my Navajo Hipster panties, feather headdress (on loan from model Karlie Kloss and singer Gwen Stefani), Manifest Destiny T-Shirt and knee-high fringed moccasins made in Taiwan while watching a Redskins game, smoking a pack of American Spirits, and eating genetically modified Butter Ball turkey, because I’m just that traditional.
Perhaps it was that warm Indian summer weather that seemingly made non-natives so eager to sport culturally demeaning faux Indian apparel and legitimize it under the guise of “ignorance” or “appreciation.” Maybe it’s totally cool to be an oblivious racist these days. Whatever the case, there have been unusually high rates of “playing Indian” this year. READ MORE
Twinkie-maker Hostess continues to screw over its workers. The company is in the process of complete liquidation and 18,000 unionized workers are set to lose their jobs. More troubling – they could lose their pensions.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal , Hostess’ CEO, Gregory Rayburn, essentially admitted that his company stole employee pension money and put it toward CEO and senior executive pay (aka “operations”). While this isn't technically illegal, it's another sleazy theft by Hostess executives - who've paid themselves handsomely while running their company into the ground. Just last month, a judge agreed to let Hostess executives suck another $1.8 million out of the bankrupt company to pay bonuses to CEOs.
If there's no way to recover the money for the Hostess pension plans for workers, then the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will have to foot the bill to make sure workers get at least some of the retirement money they paid in.
Hostess shows us clearly what Bain-style predatory capitalism is all about: big bucks for the very few rich executives, layoffs and poverty for the workers and their communities. READ MORE
It seemed to happen so fast. Actually, it was years in the making: A law designed to eviscerate the membership rolls of labor unions in the state in which the mighty United Auto Workers makes its home was rammed through both houses of the Michigan legislature and signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Rick Snyder. As Wisconsin is to public employee unions, so is Michigan to the unions of the manufacturing sector -- a place emblematic of labor’s political sway, a force now diminished by the new law.
Taken up in a lame-duck legislative session, the prospects for the bill’s passage caught everybody off-guard, thanks to a sudden change of heart by Snyder who had, throughout his term, expressed opposition to any law that, like the one he just signed, would allow workers in union shops -- such as those employed by the big-three automakers whose plants account for more than 136,000 Michigan jobs -- to opt out of paying dues to the unions that represent them.
But Snyder faces re-election in 2014, which means his campaign begins now, with this opening volley. Had the legislature passed the law, drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (the organization funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch that drafted Wisconsin’s anti-union law), and Snyder failed to sign it, he might have faced fierce opposition from Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-funded astroturf group that was also instrumental in the passage of the Wisconsin law. Even worse (for him), Snyder might have faced a primary challenge. READ MORE
Since the erosion of Americans' civil liberties depends on high levels of public apathy, some of the most dangerous privacy breaches take place incrementally and under the radar; if it invites comparisons to Blade Runner or Orwell, then someone in the PR department didn't do their job. Meanwhile, some of the biggest threats to privacy, like insecure online data or iPhone GPS tracking, are physically unobtrusive and therefore easily ignored. And it'll be at least a year or two until the sky is overrun by spy drones.
So when a method of surveillance literally resembles a prop or plot point in a sci-fi movie, it helps to reveal just how widespread and sophisticated commercial and government monitoring has become. Here are five recent developments that seem almost unreal in their dystopian creepiness.
1. Buses and street cars that can hear what you say .
You can't really go anywhere in America without being tracked by surveillance cameras. But seeing what people do is not enough; according to a report by the Daily, cities all over the country are literally bugging public transportation.
In San Francisco, city officials have plans to install surveillance cameras that record sound on 357 buses and trolley cars, the Daily reported. Eugene, Oregon and Columbus, Hartford and Athens, Georgia, also have audio recording plans in the works. The systems have the capacity to filter background noise and hone in on passengers' conversations. READ MORE
For women, engaging in casual sex still carries a stigma, and the prospect of being judged dampens their interest in one-night stands.
In contrast, Conley’s research suggested that, under the right circumstances—that is, when the experience promises to be safe and pleasant—women are just as likely as men to engage in casual sex. Her new paper adds stigma and the prospect of backlash to that equation, and finds they inhibit women’s choices. READ MORE
(Please note that today, "slut" has also become a term of endearment, meant to signify that "this sex is so good it must be illegal". Some modern women can be insulted if not called a slut, but only in private, where it's absence would mean that you did not enjoy the sex.)
December 12, 2012
The New York Times reports this week that megabank HSBC has escaped criminal prosecution for money laundering that probably funded terrorists and narcotics traffickers. Why? Because regulators and prosecutors were petrified that an indictment would undermine the entire financial system. The Times quotes anonymous government sources who confessed fears about bringing formal charges because doing so would be a "death sentence" for the bank. So they let it off the hook.
That’s right, HSBC is officially above the law. Too-big-to-fail has become too-big-to-prosecute.
A year-long investigation found that the British banking giant had blown right past federal laws by laundering billions of dollars from Mexican drug trafficking and processing banned transactions on behalf of Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma. A Wednesday Times article serves up vivid passages about the shady goings-on, including HSBC officials working closely with Saudi Arabian banks linked to terrorist organizations. READ MORE
December 10, 2012
Lincoln is a magnificent movie. But as I left the theatre, to echo Paul Harvey, the late radio commentator, I wanted to know “the rest of the story.”
The movie begins in January 1865, exactly 2 years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring slaves of the Confederate States “thenceforward and forever free. ”
As Lincoln himself told Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles issuing the Proclamation was a “military necessity. We must free the slaves or be ourselves subdued.” Indeed, Lincoln wanted to issue the Proclamation in July 1862 but Secretary of State William Seward cautioned that the series of military defeats suffered by the Union army that year would lead many to view such a move simply as an act of desperation. The victory at Antietam in September gave Lincoln the opportunity he needed.
The Emancipation Proclamation helped the Union immeasurably. It converted a war to preserve the union into a war of liberation, a change that gained widespread support in key European nations. And by rescinding a 1792 ban on blacks serving in the armed forces, the Proclamation solved the increasingly pressing personnel needs of the Union Army in the face of a declining number of white volunteers. During the war nearly 200,000 blacks, most of them ex-slaves joined the Union Army, giving the North additional manpower needed to win the war. As historian James M. McPherson writes, “The proclamation officially turned the Union army into an army of liberation…And by authorizing the enlistment of freed slaves into the army, the final proclamation went a long step toward creating that army of liberation.”
Abolitionists viewed arming ex-slaves as a major step toward toward giving them equality. Frederick Douglass urged blacks to join the army for this reason. “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.”
(Reuters) - The U.S. military judge overseeing the Guantanamo prosecution of five alleged conspirators in the September 11 attacks has issued an order maintaining secrecy over the defendants' experiences in clandestine CIA prisons.
The protective order safeguarding classified information in the case was signed on December 6 by the judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, and unsealed on Wednesday.
It is not limited to documents formally labeled "Top Secret" by the CIA or produced by the government, but also prohibits disclosure of the defendants own "observations and experiences" in the secret CIA detention, rendition and interrogation program.
Pohl is the chief judge overseeing the war crimes tribunals established by the United States to try foreign captives on terrorism-related charges at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba.
The defendants in the 9/11 case, including the alleged mastermind of the hijacked plane plot, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Pakistani, Yemeni and Saudi captives, face charges that could lead to their execution. READ MORE
Friday, December 7, 2012
Monday, December 3, 2012
|Norman Williams votes in the Nov. 6 election. He |
received a life sentence under California's three-strikes
law for a series of petty thefts and burglaries but was
released in 2009.
Photo by Michael Romano.
It was slain by a couple of professors, their students, and a district attorney who wanted reform.
By Emily Bazelon|Posted Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, at 2:43 PM ET
The original three-strikes ballot measure passed in California in 1994, following the terrible murder-kidnapping of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, who was snatched from her own slumber party. The killer turned out to be a criminal with a violent past who was out on parole. That was all voters needed to hear to pass a measure that said it would keep “career criminals who rape women, molest children and commit murder behind bars where they belong.”
But as the Los Angeles Times pointed out in an editorial this week, it’s not clear that Californians intended to go beyond the rapists, murderers, and molesters to permanently lock up offenders like Norman Williams, whom I wrote about for the New York Times Magazine two years ago. Williams’ third strike was a conviction for petty theft in 1997: He stole the floor jack of a tow truck when he was homeless and addicted to drugs. His earlier crimes also weren’t the work of a hardened and dangerous career criminal: In 1982, he burglarized an empty apartment while it was being fumigated. After he was robbed at gunpoint on the way out, he helped the police find the stuff he’d stolen. In 1992, he tried to steal tools from an art studio. When the owner confronted him, he dropped everything and ran. READ MORE
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Friday, November 30, 2012
|Ron Davis, the father of Jordan Davis, is embraced |
as he arrives at the funeral home for the visitation and
a memorial service for his son Jordan on Wednesday
in Jacksonville, Fla.
Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union/AP
In Florida, unarmed 17-year-old Jordan Davis was allegedly shot and killed by 40-something Michael Dunn after an argument about a loud car stereo outside a convenience store.
And in Minnesota, retired State Department employee Byron David Smith allegedly wounded and then killed two teenagers, Haile Kifer and Nicholas Brady, who broke into his house on Thanksgiving, apparently on a hunt for prescription drugs.
This week also saw three teen boys charged with murder in Alabama after their friend, Summer Moody, was shot in April. When a man caught the four breaking into fishing cottages in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, he allegedly fired a warning shot that killed Summer in what a district attorney called a "tragic accident." On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted the three boys, not the man who shot Summer.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
We can't count our votes on time. The road to CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus' downfall veered straight off Interstate 4 and into the mansion of "Tampa Kardashian" Jill Kelley. We order government studies to answer questions that are already painfully obvious such as whether texting and driving is dangerous (Yes!).
And when we have the opportunity to do something serious — something that could make us a leader for improvements and reform — we waste it
But memories seem short since George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin on that cold and rainy February evening.
People rightfully began to scrutinize "stand your ground," a 2005 law written by National Rifle Association lobbyist and Tallahassee puppet master Marion Hammer that removed the "duty to retreat" from Florida's self-defense statute.
In other words, if you believe you are in danger, Florida law says there's no need to run away or get yourself out of the situation if you can. You can just pull out your piece and fire, with immunity from prosecution.
Trayvon's death shined a light on other cases that had invoked "stand your ground": a gang member who got off scot-free for a shooting. A case of road rage that ended with one man stabbing another with an ice pick.
Feeling pressured to do something, the governor named a task force to study the law and make recommendations.
But this was nothing more than political theater. Gov. Rick Scott stacked the committee with members already convinced it was a good law and not in need of major reform. READ MORE
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
A look at the "Batman killer" front pages.
Every time there's a mass shooting, I remember this piece of footage from Charlie Brooker's BBC series Newswipe. In it, a forensic psychiatrist outlines the guidelines for news reporting of such a tragedy, assuming that your aim is to prevent further ones.
If you don't want to propagate more mass murders...Here are this morning's front pages. Judge for yourself who has done a good job of heeding that advice, and who hasn't. See More Newspaper Front Pages
Don't start the story with sirens blaring.
Don't have photographs of the killer.
Don't make this 24/7 coverage.
Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story.
Not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.
Do localise this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market.
Financial advisors usually recommend lottery winners spread their winnings out over several years to avoid temptations of spending the money too quickly. But with the fiscal cliff threatening to shrink the prize money through a bundle of new tax hikes, advisors are recommending the winner takes the lump sum as soon as possible. “A lump sum could save you millions in taxes,” Matthew Goff, a financial adviser in Houston, told Marketwatch.
- Read more at Marketwatch
Conservative groups are less than amused with Republicans who are considering raising revenue in exchange for entitlement cuts in fiscal cliff negotiations.
Brent Bozell, chairman of For America, a conservative action group, wrote an angry letter to Republican leaders Tuesday, blasting the lawmakers for putting tax increases on the table.
“You led the Republican Party for two years claiming emphatically that the tax increase on “the wealthy”... is really a devastating tax hike on small business owners that would kill jobs and decimate any kind of economic recovery,” the letter said. “Now conservatives see daily stories asserting that the GOP agrees with the President that “revenues are on the table” and GOP elite are all over the airwaves asking if the Tea Party will care if “a few multi-millionaires pay more in taxes.”
The group said that by agreeing to raise revenue, Republicans are only emboldening Democrats to demand higher taxes. “Liberals feel comfortable making such outlandish proposals because they feel you are weak enough that you will continue to surrender to evermore higher taxes having capitulated once already. They will never be satisfied. You know that.” The letter was sent just days after a handful of senior Republicans publicly distanced themselves from conservative activist Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge. - Read the letter here
Small businesses big enough to hit these thresholds incorporate to escape them.
The real target is the Corporate Executives of public corporations, who can now take their compensation in salaries plus benefits, because the top income brackets are now low enough, to make "raiding the corporate treasury via compensation and benefits packages", a viable option.
If taxes on the proceeds of these corporate treasury raids are high enough to prohibit them, then corporate executives will have to take their compensation in stock and options. The difference is that, to get and preserve the capital gains they get from stock and options compensation deals, they must ensure that the company performs well. That means that as the company performs well, not only do they get the high pay they seek, but shareholders get benefits too. That puts more money into the economy, than would happen if only these executives get higher salaries, which are paid them, regardless of company performance. Many taking herculean pay, even while the corps they manage sink beneath the waves.
Monday, November 26, 2012
Saturday, November 24, 2012
|Koch Industries Executive Vice President David H. Koch, |
left, poses for a photo with Julia Koch during the opening
night at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on
Sept. 26, 2011.
“I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova- Farines says. “They were not hidden at all.”
By September of that year, the researchers had found evidence of improper payments to secure contracts in six countries dating back to 2002, authorized by the business director of the company’s Koch-Glitsch affiliate in France.
“Those activities constitute violations of criminal law,” Koch Industries wrote in a Dec. 8, 2008, letter giving details of its findings. The letter was made public in a civil court ruling in France in September 2010; the document has never before been reported by the media.
Egorova-Farines wasn’t rewarded for bringing the illicit payments to the company’s attention. Her superiors removed her from the inquiry in August 2008 and fired her in June 2009, calling her incompetent, even after Koch’s investigators substantiated her findings. She sued Koch-Glitsch in France for wrongful termination.
Obsessed with Secrecy
|(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)|
The amendment’s surprising defeat has ramifications beyond Minnesota. “There’s been an assumption of political will for restricting the right to vote,” says McGrath. “No, there’s not.” The amendment backfired on the GOP. “Voter ID did not drive the conservative base to turn out in the way that Republicans thought it would,” adds McGrath. “Instead, it actually inspired progressive voters, who felt under siege, to fight stronger and turn out in higher numbers.” The minority vote nearly doubled in the state, compared with 2008. Minnesota was a microcosm of the national failure of the GOP’s voter suppression strategy. READ MORE
Also by the Author
Hundreds of ALEC’s model bills and resolutions bear traces of Koch DNA: raw ideas that were once at the fringes but that have been carved into “mainstream” policy through the wealth and will of Charles and David Koch. Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding.
No one knows how much the Kochs have given ALEC in total, but the amount likely exceeds $1 million—not including a half-million loaned to ALEC when the group was floundering. ALEC gave the Kochs its Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award, and Koch Industries has been one of the select members of ALEC’s corporate board for almost twenty years. The company’s top lobbyist was once ALEC’s chairman. As a result, the Kochs have shaped legislation touching every state in the country. Like ideological venture capitalists, the Kochs have used ALEC as a way to invest in radical ideas and fertilize them with tons of cash.
Take environmental protections. The Kochs have a penchant for paying their way out of serious violations and coming out ahead. Helped by Koch Industries’ lobbying efforts, one of the first measures George W. Bush signed into law as governor of Texas was an ALEC model bill giving corporations immunity from penalties if they tell regulators about their own violation of environmental rules. Dozens of other ALEC bills would limit environmental regulations or litigation in ways that would benefit Koch.
ALEC’s model legislation reflects parts of the Kochs’ agenda that have little to do with oil profits. Long before ALEC started pushing taxpayer-subsidized school vouchers, for example, the Koch fortune was already underwriting attacks on public education. David Koch helped inject the idea of privatizing public schools into the national debate as a candidate for vice president in 1980. A cornerstone of the Libertarian Party platform, which he bankrolled, was the call for “educational tax credits to encourage alternatives to public education,” a plan to the right of Ronald Reagan. Several pieces of ALEC’s model legislation echo this plan. READ MORE