More reasons to hate the Koch brothers

Soros vs the Koch brothers scorecard

In the game of duelling billionaires, the Koch brothers win the prize for the nastiest. Image: The Other 98%.

Poor Exxon. They used to be the oil company that everybody loved to hate. This spawn of the Standard Oil breakup had it all: Obscene profits, the Exxon Valdez, a mean CEO who sneered at clean energy, blatant funding for climate deniers.

But now, the new ExxonMobil is just not that special anymore.

It turns out that all the big oil companies are buying elections, paying front-groups to spread lies about climate change and dumping their tiny investments in clean energy while continuing to put out soft-focus ads touting how green and socially responsible they are. And they just don’t seem to care that much about preventing oil spills either.

In these days of peak greed, you have to drill pretty deep in the oil patch to find the worst of the worst.

A real gusher

Well, after coming up with a bunch of dry holes, the environmental and government-reform movements seem to have found the activist equivalent of Old Spindletop: Charles and David Koch. Their oil company, Koch Industries, based in Wichita, KS, “is bigger than Intel, Dupont or Prudential Insurance, and they own it lock stock and barrel,” according to 60 Minutes.

The Kochs have quite a pedigree. Their father Fred Koch built refineries for Joe Stalin in the 1930s but then went on to co-found the John Birch Society in 1958, a bunch of zanies who branded as Commies not only FDR and Truman but also Ike. Fred left his sons $300 million.

Not-so-affectionately known as the “Koch Brothers” — with apologies to all sibling entertainers from the Smothers Brothers to the Olsen Twins to Kim, Khloe and Kourtney — the billionaire brothers with the dangerous-to-pronounce last name seem to be behind almost everything evil in American money-politics these days.

With cojones missing from most billionaires, who prefer to remain behind the scenes, David ran for vice-president on the Libertarian ticket in 1980. But after his campaign promising to cut social security, the minimum wage and corporate taxes received less than 1% of the vote, the Kochs seem to have learned the lesson that they can get more done as puppet masters behind numerous pro-corporate front groups, from the American Enterprise Institute to Americans for Prosperity.

Children of the night

Recently, information surfaced that the Kochs’ organization may have bribed Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas to support the Kochs’ position in the Citizens United case, a Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the ability to make anonymous donations to political races.  Stephen Colbert explains how the Kochs may have cooked Thomas.

Now, an activist group called The Other 98% has come out with a handy scorecard to rate the Koch brothers’ contributions to climate deniers, run-ins with the law and attempts to hide their role as Tea Party puppetmasters.

  • The Tea Party? It’s not really a grassroots activist movement of cranky white seniors. It’s actually a front-group for the Koch brothers, who shamelessly exploit the real frustrations of lower- and middle-income conservative activists to further their own greedhead agenda.
  • The ultra-libertarian Cato Institute? Their “fellows” may really believe the pro-corporate line they push on Face the Nation every other week, but Charles Koch founded the place in 1977.
  • Stealing oil from American Indians? It wasn’t Kit Carson or Dad Joiner, but Koch Industries that was fined $25 million in 2001 for taking more oil than they paid for from federal Indian lands.

And whatever you think of liberal billionaire George Soros, it’s hard to skim the “George Soros — He’s No Koch Brother” infographic without coming away convinced that the Kochs have become the new cocks of the walk when it comes to oil tycoons behaving badly.

— Erik Curren

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  1. Matt says

    The Koch brothers are definitely a pair of whack jobs in dire need of a padded room and a lot of medication, but when you have billions of dollars I guess that America just lists you as being eccentric. The worst part is that these 2 get to spew their special form of bile that is rapidly dissolving the very fabric of american society but deluding people into believing that everything is OK and we can all just go on with Business as usual. We have only one chance of avoiding a total breakdown and destruction of the human race, but these 2 just want to get that last dollar that they can. I don’t know what they intend on doing with it but so be it. Who knows, this demonstration going on in Wisconsin and Ohio may, just maybe an america waking up and smelling the coffee.

    Only time will tell on that one, I just hope that we have that much time left.

    • says

      Yes, Matt, sometimes I wonder if these guys know how dangerous our climate/energy situation really is, but they just think that it doesn’t matter since they’ll be dead when the sh*t hits the fan, so they just want to grab all they can now. Or maybe they actually believe their own stories? But Wis and OH are encouraging and I hope too that it means we’re waking up.

    • says

      The Koch Brothers are some of the nastiest of the nasty when it comes to subverting democracy but you’re right that industrial capitalism is the overall problem. We need to move on to the next kind of economy.

      • says

        Hi Erik. Yes, it amazes me how many people cling to the concept of capitalism, as it’s merely a pyramid scheme where the few benefit and where the many life off the crumbs. Plus, all this greed leads to corruption in government and business, and it’s killing our planet.

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