Link to KansasPrairie.net

10/1/2014

INSIDE THE KOCH BROTHERS’ TOXIC EMPIRE…. MUST READ….

Filed under: prairie musings, print news, Koch Brothers — Peg Britton @ 2:47 pm

Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire

Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world’s largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system. But what they don’t want you to know is how they made all that money

By Tim Dickinson | September 24, 2014

The enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today’s GOP. Koch-affiliated organizations raised some $400 million during the 2012 election, and aim to spend another $290 million to elect Republicans in this year’s midterms. So far in this cycle, Koch-backed entities have bought 44,000 political ads to boost Republican efforts to take back the Senate.
What is less clear is where all that money comes from. Koch Industries is headquartered in a squat, smoked-glass building that rises above the prairie on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas. The building, like the brothers’ fiercely private firm, is literally and figuratively a black box. Koch touts only one top-line financial figure: $115 billion in annual revenue, as estimated by Forbes. By that metric, it is larger than IBM, Honda or Hewlett-Packard and is America’s second-largest private company after agribusiness colossus Cargill. The company’s stock response to inquiries from reporters: “We are privately held and don’t disclose this information.”

But Koch Industries is not entirely opaque. The company’s troubled legal history – including a trail of congressional investigations, Department of Justice consent decrees, civil lawsuits and felony convictions – augmented by internal company documents, leaked State Department cables, Freedom of Information disclosures and company whistle¬-blowers, combine to cast an unwelcome spotlight on the toxic empire whose profits finance the modern GOP.

Under the nearly five-decade reign of CEO Charles Koch, the company has paid out record civil and criminal environmental penalties. And in 1999, a jury handed down to Koch’s pipeline company what was then the largest wrongful-death judgment of its type in U.S. history, resulting from the explosion of a defective pipeline that incinerated a pair of Texas teenagers.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN ROLLING STONE HERE…

6/30/2014

CHARLATANS, CRANKS AND KANSAS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas, GOP, Koch Brothers — Peg Britton @ 7:53 am

brownie1.png
Op-Ed Columnist
Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas

By PAUL KRUGMAN
June 29, 2014

New York Times

Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.

But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.

There’s an important lesson here — but it’s not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don’t have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people.

Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago, when just about everyone on the right — after claiming, speciously, that the economy’s performance under Ronald Reagan validated their doctrine — went on to predict that Bill Clinton’s tax hike on the wealthy would cause a recession if not an outright depression. What actually happened was a spectacular economic expansion.

Nor is it just liberals who have long considered supply-side economics and those promoting it to have been discredited by experience. In 1998, in the first edition of his best-selling economics textbook, Harvard’s N. Gregory Mankiw — very much a Republican, and later chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers — famously wrote about the damage done by “charlatans and cranks.” In particular, he highlighted the role of “a small group of economists” who “advised presidential candidate Ronald Reagan that an across-the-board cut in income tax rates would raise tax revenue.” Chief among that “small group” was none other than Art Laffer.

And it’s not as if supply-siders later redeemed themselves. On the contrary, they’ve been as ludicrously wrong in recent years as they were in the 1990s. For example, five years have passed since Mr. Laffer warned Americans that “we can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years.” Just about everyone in his camp agreed. But what we got instead was low inflation and record-low interest rates.

So how did the charlatans and cranks end up dictating policy in Kansas, and to a more limited extent in other states? Follow the money.

For the Brownback tax cuts didn’t emerge out of thin air. They closely followed a blueprint laid out by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which has also supported a series of economic studies purporting to show that tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy will promote rapid economic growth. The studies are embarrassingly bad, and the council’s Board of Scholars — which includes both Mr. Laffer and Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation — doesn’t exactly shout credibility. But it’s good enough for antigovernment work.

And what is ALEC? It’s a secretive group, financed by major corporations, that drafts model legislation for conservative state-level politicians. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, who acquired a number of leaked ALEC documents, describes it as “almost a dating service between politicians at the state level, local elected politicians, and many of America’s biggest companies.” And most of ALEC’s efforts are directed, not surprisingly, at privatization, deregulation, and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

And I do mean for the wealthy. While ALEC supports big income-tax cuts, it calls for increases in the sales tax — which fall most heavily on lower-income households — and reductions in tax-based support for working households. So its agenda involves cutting taxes at the top while actually increasing taxes at the bottom, as well as cutting social services.

But how can you justify enriching the already wealthy while making life harder for those struggling to get by? The answer is, you need an economic theory claiming that such a policy is the key to prosperity for all. So supply-side economics fills a need backed by lots of money, and the fact that it keeps failing doesn’t matter.

And the Kansas debacle won’t matter either. Oh, it will briefly give states considering similar policies pause. But the effect won’t last long, because faith in tax-cut magic isn’t about evidence; it’s about finding reasons to give powerful interests what they want.

4/12/2014

WHAT DO THE KOCH BROTHERS WANT?

Filed under: prairie musings, Kansas, Koch Brothers — Peg Britton @ 7:37 am

What Do the Koch Brothers Want?

As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires and large corporations can now spend an unlimited amount of money to influence the political process.

Perhaps, the biggest winners of Citizens United are Charles and David Koch, owners of the second-largest privately run business in America Koch Industries.

Among other things, the Koch brothers own oil refineries in Texas, Alaska, and Minnesota and control some 4,000 miles of pipeline.

According to Forbes Magazine, the Koch brothers are now worth $80 billion, and have increased their wealth by $12 billion since last year alone.

For the Koch brothers, $80 billion in wealth, apparently, is not good enough. Owning the second largest private company in America is, apparently, not good enough.  It doesn’t appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process.

It is well known that the Koch brothers have provided the major source of funding to the Tea Party and want to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

What else do the Koch brothers want?

In 1980, David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980.

Let’s take a look at the 1980 Libertarian Party platform.

Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:

“We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
“We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
“We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
“We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
“We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
“We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence.  Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
“We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
“We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
“As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
“We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
“We advocate the complete separation of education and State.  Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
“We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
“We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
“We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
“We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
“We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
“We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
“We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
“We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
“We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
“We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
“We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
“We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
“We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”

In other words, the agenda of the Koch brothers is not only to defund Obamacare.  The agenda of the Koch brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country.

It is clear that the Koch brothers and other right wing billionaires are calling the shots and are pulling the strings of the Republican Party.

And because of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, they now have the power to spend an unlimited amount of money to buy the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the next President of the United States.

If they are allowed to hijack the American political process to defund Obamacare they will be back for more.

Tomorrow it will be Social Security, ending Medicare as we know it, repealing the minimum wage.  It seems to me that the Koch brothers will not be content until they get everything they believe they are entitled to.

Our great nation can no longer be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, for the sake of our economy, we have got to let democracy prevail.

10/6/2012

ACTIVIST GROUP COLLECTING SIGNATURES TO OUST REPUBLICAN KRIS KOBACH

Filed under: prairie musings, Kansas, GOP, Koch Brothers — Peg Britton @ 9:11 am

Kansas secretary of state faces recall effort
An activist group is collecting signatures to oust Republican Kris Kobach
By Jillian Rayfield

Kris Kobach, recently seen mulling a birther challenge to Obama’s ballot eligibility, is now facing a recall effort.

Activists Sonny Scroggins and Frank Smith are behind the effort, citing Kobach’s role in drafting the controversial immigration laws adopted in Arizona and Alabama as well as his push for voter ID in the state.

But Scroggins and Smith face a few obstacles to even getting a ballot measure. From John Celock of HuffPo:

While legal in Kansas, statewide recall elections are difficult to bring about. Under state law, Scroggins and Smith    will   first need to collect some 83,000 signatures (or 10 percent of the turnout in the 2010 secretary of state election) and show cause to recall Kobach, which will be reviewed by a state judge. A Kansas official can be recalled only for a felony conviction, misconduct, incompetence or failure to perform the duties of his or her office.

If a state judge accepts the petition, the recall effort will need to collect an additional 330,000 signatures (40 percent of the 2010 turnout) to actually get on the ballot. State law also requires recall organizers to obtain at least 100 Kansas residents eligible to vote to sponsor the recall petition.

“Kris has got all the money, got the Koch brother behind him, and he’s got Donald Trump, but we’ve got God on our side and we want everybody sitting at the table,” Scroggins told KMBZ News.

9/21/2012

THE END OF A KANSAS TRADITION: MODERATION—-BY MICAH COHEN

Filed under: prairie musings, Kansas, GOP, Koch Brothers — Peg Britton @ 9:28 pm

New York Times

Friday, September 21, 2012

FiveThirtyEight - Nate Silver\’s Political Calculus
September 19, 2012, 1:33 pm

The End of a Kansas Tradition: Moderation
By MICAH COHEN

We continue our Presidential Geography series, a one-by-one examination of the peculiarities that drive the politics in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Here is a look at Kansas, the Sunflower State. FiveThirtyEight spoke with Joseph A. Aistrup, a professor of political science at Kansas State University; Burdett A. Loomis, a professor of political science at Kansas University; H. Edward Flentje, a professor in Wichita State University’s Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs; and David Kensinger, president of Roadmap Solutions, Gov. Sam Brownback’s policy organization.

A long tradition of centrist Republicanism in Kansas — exemplified by politicians like former Senator Bob Dole and former Gov. Bill Graves — was dealt a near-fatal wound last month when a group of state senators, deemed insufficiently conservative, were defeated in Republican primaries.

Kansas had been a reliably conservative state for years, and Mitt Romney is all but guaranteed the state’s six electoral votes. But until recently, Kansans still preferred a government far from the ideological poles.

“A moderate coalition ran the state for 40 years,” Mr. Loomis said.

That era appears to be over. The primaries were the culmination of a gradual, two-decade drift to the political right in Kansas, but they also came after several years of faster-paced conservative ascension, as well-financed interest groups capitalized on a backlash against President Obama and his policies, local political analysts said.

Unless Democrats are able to pull off upsets in the November general elections, the victories of the less-centrist Republican candidates will clear the way for a more conservative vision of the state. Long-sought conservative legislation on issues including health care, the selection of judges and environmental regulations is expected to become law.

In 2010, the Tea Party movement that swept conservatives into power nationally helped Kansas conservatives to extend their influence. The state’s Democratic governor was replaced by a conservative Republican, Sam Brownback, and the G.O.P. expanded its majority in the State House of Representatives.

Only the Kansas State Senate retained significant centrist tendencies, and several of Mr. Brownback’s legislative goals were stymied by a coalition of Democratic and moderate Republican senators.

That conflict set up the recent “moderate” vs. “conservative” Republican primaries. And the conservatives, backed by Mr. Brownback and an avalanche of outside money, won. Americans for Prosperity, financed by the Wichita-based Koch brothers; the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, who also received a large Koch check; and other groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars during the campaign.

But the rightward lurches last month and in 2010 were made possible by a longer term shift in the state’s political landscape. Over the past two decades, Kansas’ Republican Party has become more conservative, particularly in two of the state’s main population centers: Wichita’s Sedgwick County and the Kansas City suburbs in Johnson County.

In presidential elections, there are just two truly Democratic counties remaining in the state: Wyandotte County and Douglas County.

Wyandotte County is home to blue-collar Kansas City, Kan., sometimes abbreviated as K.C.K., a traditional Democratic city with large minority populations. Democrats are also dominant in Douglas County, home to the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

The rest of Kansas is heavily Republican. There are counties where Democrats keep the vote close, mostly the suburban counties around K.C.K. But in this case, close means a Republican margin of victory of around 10 percentage points. Republican voters in the fast-growing suburbs of Johnson County tend to be more conservative than the typical suburban Republican in other states.

And voters in Kansas tend to get more conservative as you travel away from the state’s population centers. The deeply religious farm counties in western Kansas are among the most conservative counties in the nation. In 2008, Senator John McCain, of Arizona, won more than 70 percent of the vote in most of them.

In the southwest, the flat land is dotted by dairy farms and slaughterhouses (Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal are known as the “Golden Triangle of meatpacking”). Meatpacking plants have attracted an influx of Latino workers, and in many rural schools a majority of students are Hispanic. But the state’s growing Latino community has yet to have an appreciable effect at the ballot box.

The Bellwether: Sedgwick County

Kansas’ rightward shift is perhaps best exemplified by Wichita’s Sedgwick County, where Democrats used to be a majority. Wichita, home to some of the biggest airplane manufacturers in the nation, is mostly Republican, partly because residents from more rural parts of the state have resettled there, Mr. Loomis said. It has transformed into a good political bellwether, coming within one percentage point of the statewide vote in the last three elections.

The shift to the right in Kansas is unlikely to be reversed in the near future, especially in presidential elections. Mr. Romney has a 100 percent chance of carrying the state, according to the current FiveThirtyEight forecast.

However, a moderate Republican or Democratic comeback on the state level is possible, the local analysts said, particularly if the new governing coalition overreaches. In addition, the state’s shift to the right was, at least in part, a reaction to Mr. Obama, who will be president for a finite amount of time (either 124 or 1,584 more days).

“Barack Obama tended to be the worst thing that ever happened to Democrats in states like Kansas,” Mr. Aistrup said, “because all of a sudden these moderate Republicans were mobilized and became much more conservative than I think they otherwise are.”

Outside interest groups like Americans for Prosperity were able to capitalize on those anti-Obama feelings, tying moderates to the administration. With the elimination of those moderate Republican senators, the more conservative wing of the Kansas G.O.P. will have a largely unobstructed path to implement its vision.

“You’re going to see durable conservative majority governing Kansas for the foreseeable future,” Mr. Kensinger said.

8/16/2012

WHERE HAS ALL THE MONEY GONE? $21 TRILLION OF WEALTH IS OFFSHORE (THAT’S AS MUCH AS THE AMERICAN AND JAPANESE GDPS PUT TOGETHER)

Filed under: political musings, Koch Brothers, Mitt Romney — Peg Britton @ 12:53 pm

£13tn hoard hidden from taxman by global elite.

• Study estimates staggering size of offshore economy

• Private banks help wealthiest to move cash into havens

   Heather Stewart, business editor

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 21 July 2012 16.00 EDT  

The Cayman Islands: a favourite haven from the taxman for the global elite.

A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, released exclusively to the Observer.

He shows that at least £13tn – perhaps up to £20tn – has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks, which vie to attract the assets of so-called high net-worth individuals. Their wealth is, as Henry puts it, “protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy”. According to Henry’s research, the top 10 private banks, which include UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, as well as the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, managed more than £4tn in 2010, a sharp rise from £1.5tn five years earlier.

The detailed analysis in the report, compiled using data from a range of sources, including the Bank of International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund, suggests that for many developing countries the cumulative value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since the 1970s would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world.

Oil-rich states with an internationally mobile elite have been especially prone to watching their wealth disappear into offshore bank accounts instead of being invested at home, the research suggests. Once the returns on investing the hidden assets is included, almost £500bn has left Russia since the early 1990s when its economy was opened up. Saudi Arabia has seen £197bn flood out since the mid-1970s, and Nigeria £196bn.

“The problem here is that the assets of these countries are held by a small number of wealthy individuals while the debts are shouldered by the ordinary people of these countries through their governments,” the report says.

The sheer size of the cash pile sitting out of reach of tax authorities is so great that it suggests standard measures of inequality radically underestimate the true gap between rich and poor. According to Henry’s calculations, £6.3tn of assets is owned by only 92,000 people, or 0.001% of the world’s population – a tiny class of the mega-rich who have more in common with each other than those at the bottom of the income scale in their own societies.

“These estimates reveal a staggering failure: inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people,” said John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. “People on the street have no illusions about how unfair the situation has become.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Countries around the world are under intense pressure to reduce their deficits and governments cannot afford to let so much wealth slip past into tax havens.

“Closing down the tax loopholes exploited by multinationals and the super-rich to avoid paying their fair share will reduce the deficit. This way the government can focus on stimulating the economy, rather than squeezing the life out of it with cuts and tax rises for the 99% of people who aren’t rich enough to avoid paying their taxes.”

Assuming the £13tn mountain of assets earned an average 3% a year for its owners, and governments were able to tax that income at 30%, it would generate a bumper £121bn in revenues – more than rich countries spend on aid to the developing world each year.

Groups such as UK Uncut have focused attention on the paltry tax bills of some highly wealthy individuals, such as Topshop owner Sir Philip Green, with campaigners at one recent protest shouting: “Where did all the money go? He took it off to Monaco!” Much of Green’s retail empire is owned by his wife, Tina, who lives in the low-tax principality.

A spokeswoman for UK Uncut said: “People like Philip Green use public services – they need the streets to be cleaned, people need public transport to get to their shops – but they don’t want to pay for it.”

Leaders of G20 countries have repeatedly pledged to close down tax havens since the financial crisis of 2008, when the secrecy shrouding parts of the banking system was widely seen as exacerbating instability. But many countries still refuse to make details of individuals’ financial worth available to the tax authorities in their home countries as a matter of course. Tax Justice Network would like to see this kind of exchange of information become standard practice, to prevent rich individuals playing off one jurisdiction against another.

“The very existence of the global offshore industry, and the tax-free status of the enormous sums invested by their wealthy clients, is predicated on secrecy,” said Henry.

5/17/2012

BROWNBACK’S ONLY POLITICAL CONTITUENT IS GOD……………

sam-brownback.jpg

So, I ask….how is it working out for you with Brownback as Governor?  What he said he would do if elected President, he is doing in Kansas at will.  He said he would, and he is. When he runs again for President, he can show by example what he’s done to Kansas.  Brownback’s tax legislation will be the end of Kansas as we know it.

Here’s an example of his plan:
“Now, Brownback seeks something far more radical: not faith-based politics but faith in place of politics. In his dream America, the one he believes both the Bible and the Constitution promise, the state will simply wither away. In its place will be a country so suffused with God and the free market that the social fabric of the last hundred years — schools, Social Security, welfare — will be privatized or simply done away with. There will be no abortions; sex will be confined to heterosexual marriage. Men will lead families, mothers will tend children, and big business and the church will take care of all.”

He’s not kidding.  It’s already happening in Kansas in case you haven’t noticed. His only political constituent as governor of Kansas is God.

Read this to follow Brownback’s plan for our future…

3/25/2012

CONNECTING THE DOTS BETWEEN ALEC, WAL-MART, THE NRA, AND THE FLORIDA LAW CITED BY SOME TO IMMUNIZE TRAYVON MARTIN’S KILLER…

Filed under: political musings, Koch Brothers — Peg Britton @ 10:02 am

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard in the political process.

Sheet: ALEC, the NRA, the Castle Doctrine and Trayvon Martin

By: Nick Surgey

March 23, 2012

Connecting the Dots Between ALEC, Wal-Mart, the NRA, and the Florida Law Cited By Some to Immunize Trayvon Martin’s Killer

(Prepared by Lisa Graves, Center for Media and Democracy, and Nick Surgey, Common Cause)

Early on the evening of February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, 17, an African-American, in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Trayvon, whose body was not identified until days later, was walking home after buying Skittles and tea. Zimmerman claimed the shooting was in self-defense. Citing a recent Florida statute known as the “shoot first” law or “Castle Doctrine,” police did not charge Zimmerman and did not seize the gun used to kill Trayvon.

That Florida law became the template for “model” legislation endorsed and promoted nationally by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a non-profit entity funded by major corporations and interest groups including Koch Industries and the National Rifle Association (NRA).  The bill expanded the long-standing right of self-defense by extending criminal and civil immunity to shooters who feel threatened by another, creating a statutory “right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force. . .”

ALEC has an annual budget of approximately $7 million and claims that hundreds of its model bills become law each year. It hides its inner workings, including the fact that its model bills often are drafted and always are pre-approved by corporations and lobbyists. ALEC calls itself the nation’s largest group of state legislators, but 98% of its funding comes from corporations and sources other than dues from elected officials.

In August 2005, in Grapevine, Tex., NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer asked legislators and lobbyists at a closed-door meeting of ALEC’s “Criminal Justice Task Force” to adopt the Florida “Castle Doctrine” bill as an ALEC model bill.  The NRA said her pitch “was well received,” and the bill was approved “unanimously.”(1)

At that time, ALEC’s public-private Criminal Justice Task Force was co-chaired by Wal-Mart(2)–the nation’s largest seller of guns and ammunition.(3)  ALEC’s staffer for the task force was Chris Oswald a former “State Liaison” for the NRA.

Corporate representatives and state legislators on ALEC Task Forces have equal votes on proposed model legislation,(4) so the Florida law was ratified by Wal-Mart and its 2005 public sector co-chair, Texas Rep. Ray Allen, along with other state legislators and corporate lobbyists. It was endorsed by a representative of the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation, according to minutes of the meeting issued by ALEC.(5)

In September 2005, that bill was adopted by ALEC’s National Board of Directors, which has a procedure to allow model bills to be approved if there is no objection. The public sector portion of the board was chaired by Georgia state Rep. Earl Ehrhart; the corporate board included Koch Industries, Altria (parent of Philip Morris), Coors, Bell South, and Verizon.  (ALEC says its corporate board does not vote. Corporations and elected officials have an equal vote in the task forces, where model bills are adopted, however.)

At the next ALEC Criminal Justice Task Force meeting, in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, in 2006, the NRA’s representative to ALEC, Tara Mica, reported on the “continued success” in securing passage of ALEC’s “Castle Doctrine” bill in other states.(6)

In 2007, an ALEC “Legislative Report Card,” boasted that the ALEC/NRA Castle Doctrine bill had been introduced or passed in numerous states.(7) ALEC also highlighted ALEC legislators who had introduced versions of the model bill, including Texas state Sen. Jeff Wentworth and Rep. Joe Driver.(8)

To date, more than two dozen states have adopted Castle Doctrine bills with ALEC/ NRA DNA.(9)  Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an ALEC alum, signed into law an NRA-backed bill with some provisions similar to the ALEC bill in 2011. Similar bills are pending in other states.

The Florida bill that became the ALEC model was signed on April 26, 2005 by Gov. Jeb Bush, with the NRA’s lobbyist, Marion Hammer, standing alongside.(10)

NRA President Wayne LaPierre said NRA lobbyist and former president Hammer “conceived” of the Florida bill and lobbied it into law. (11)  She ridiculed opponents of the bill, calling them hysterical, and helped the bill’s co-sponsors, Florida state Sen. Durell Peaden (R-Crestview) and Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala), get it passed.

In 2005, Peaden was an ALEC leader, serving on the Executive Committee of the “Health and Human Services Task Force.” (12)

Baxley, a former head of the Christian Coalition in Florida, is also a member of ALEC. His legislative resume includes sponsorship of bills creating license plates honoring the Confederacy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., (13)  Opponents of the “Castle Doctrine” bill predicted it would immunize racially motivated killers. Baxley recently said the law should not protect Trayvon Martin’s shooter.

As noted by ALECexposed.org, ALEC’s current crime task force, which continues to endorse the ALEC/NRA Castle Doctrine, includes Florida Rep. Ray Pilon.

The NRA has pushed several other ALEC “model” bills to change state laws on firearms:   http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/Guns,_Prisons,_Crime,_and_Immigration.

For more:  Click here.

3/20/2012

THE TEA PARTY: BROUGHT TO YOU BY JOSEPH STALIN

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Koch Brothers — Peg Britton @ 8:47 am

The Tea Party: Brought to You by Joseph Stalin
By John MacMurray

Stalin The Tea Party: Brought to You by Joseph StalinAnd if the title brought you a SAY WHAT??? moment, that’s understandable. So, let’s connect some dots and see what the picture looks like.

Let’s begin by asking ourselves what Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Glenn Beck, Joe Stalin (yeah, that one), Dick Armey, Dixie Cups, Brawny paper towels, The John Birch Society, The Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, George Mason University, FreedomWorks, Citizens for a Sound Economy, and the Smithsonian have in common?

And if your answer was something like, “Not a thing except they’re on the same page,” let’s start connecting. And when we finish connecting, we find that the picture looks like Charles and David Koch, the two brothers who own Koch Industries, in Wichita, Kansas. With estimated annual revenues of $100 billion, it is the second-largest privately held company in America.

Following the dots we see that President (and for this, Lord, we are thankful!) Barack Obama has had his Progressive agenda ambushed at every possible point by groups like Americans for Prosperity, an organization that David Koch started, in 2004.

In the same vein is FreedomWorks, headed by Dick Armey; FreedomWorks was founded by a merger between Empower America and Citizens for a Sound Economy, also founded by Koch Industries.

Television host Glenn Beck has also thanked the Koch family for their help, but does not elaborate on the relationship.

Before President Obama, President Bill Clinton had his energy and climate legislation hammered on mercilessly and constantly (and frequently dishonestly) by Citizens for a Sound Economy, a Koch Foundation-funded group.

Likewise, by the Cato Institute, a think tank which the Kochs provided the funds to launch back in 1977.

The Kochs also set up another think tank, the Mercatus Center, at George Mason University, in Arlington, Virginia. Established in the mid-eighties, the Center has become a leading source for deregulation policies. George Mason, however, is a public university and hosting an advocacy institution funded and controlled by the Kochs is highly controversial.

Just as controversial is the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History where the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, a multimedia exploration of the theory that mankind evolved in response to climate change, is criticized by many as a glib whitewash of any human involvement in global warming.

Ironically enough, the financial stake for this huge family fortune comes from Joseph Stalin. As the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953, Stalin hired Fred Koch, father of David and Charles, to construct oil refineries, pipelines, and train workers. Fred Koch delivered good value for Stalin’s money, and worked for the USSR for many years.

In later years, Fred apparently had second thoughts about the relationship, and helped found the virulently anti-communist John Birch Society.

Currently, the Koch family fortunes are bolstered by consumer products like Dixie Cups, Brawny paper towels, Stainmaster Carpet and the entire Georgia Pacific product line from plywood to modeling clay.

Exactly how much the Kochs have spent to make America over into their image of a Libertarian paradise may never be known outside the company and the foundations the family controls. Current Federal tax law permits anonymous personal donations to politically active nonprofit groups. But what can be gleaned shows spending somewhat north of $200 million since the late 90s alone.

However much the amount is, it appears to be well spent. During the 105th Congress, for example, the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs held hearings involving Triad Management, another shadowy Koch-funded enterprise. The Koch brothers, their employees, and their banks simply refused to respond to subpoenas from the committee. And committee chair Fred Thompson (R-Tennessee) declined to follow up.

Currently, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Koch brothers have given a million dollars in support of Proposition 23. That’s the proposition that would delay implementation of AB 32, the law that would cut California’s emissions of green house gases to 1990 levels.

So, according to sources like PBS’ Frontline, and released Senate transcripts, the Koch brothers get their way by simply buying whatever and whoever they want. By using various tax exempt foundations to subvert or just ignore campaign financing laws, they are using our own money to take our government away from us.

Uncle Joseph would be so proud!

The following links are useful sources:

Bill Moyers interview on PBS: “Washington’s Other Scandal” FRONTLINE #1705. Air Date: October 6, 1998

Jane Mayer article in New Yorker Magazine: “The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.” August 20, 2010

United States Senate Hearings

List of Koch Industries consumer products

Article on Triad Management Services (cross-reference to Frontline article, above):

John MacMurray teaches 7th grade language arts and social studies at Ladera Vista Junior High in Fullerton.

10/4/2011

KOCH BROTHERS CORRUPTION…RIGHT HERE IN RIVER CITY…UNDER OUR NOSES…

Filed under: political musings, Koch Brothers — Peg Britton @ 8:56 am

Koch Brothers operate in a shroud of secrecy, they are obsessed with it… and there are reasons for that.  If you want to be enlightened about their lack of ethics, do read the following article in its entirety.
Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales

By Asjylyn Loder and David Evans - Oct 3, 2011

Bloomberg Markets Magazine

In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts.

“I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova- Farines says. “They were not hidden at all.”

She immediately notified her supervisors in the U.S. A week later, Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries dispatched an investigative team to look into her findings, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue.

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

Koch-Glitsch is part of a global empire run by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who have taken a small oil company they inherited from their father, Fred, after his death in 1967, and built it into a chemical, textile, trading and refining conglomerate spanning more than 50 countries.

Koch Industries is obsessed with secrecy, to the point that it discloses only an approximation of its annual revenue — $100 billion a year — and says nothing about its profits.

The most visible part of Koch Industries is its consumer brands, including Lycra fiber and Stainmaster carpet. Georgia- Pacific LLC, which Koch owns, makes Dixie cups, Brawny paper towels and Quilted Northern bath tissue.

Charles, 75, and David, 71, each worth about $20 billion, are prominent financial backers of groups that believe that excessive regulation is sapping the competitiveness of American business. They inherited their anti-government leanings from their father.

For the rest of the story, click here.


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