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“So Many GOP Options”: Anybody Can Grow Up To Be Speaker Of The House!

I suppose it’s as good a time as any to recall that under the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Speaker does not have to be a Member. And so, you get this entirely non-humorous tweet from a Washington Examiner reporter:

He wouldn’t need any OJT, and all the rumors about his infidelities have long been confirmed, right?

But if you’re going to think “outside the box” for a House Speaker, there are other options, too:

Soeaker Carly Fiorina. would finally have that missing item on her resume–you know, remotely relevant qualifications for the presidency–and could symbolize the fact that just because the House GOP is trying to shut down Planned Parenthood and opposes pay equity is no reason to assume there’s any “war on women” going on.

Speaker Bobby Jindal could draw on his past House experience, and he’d have an excuse to leave Louisiana for good!

Speaker Sean Hannity could cut out the middle-men in Fox News/GOP message communications.

Speaker David Koch could cut out the middle-men, period.

So many options! Who else can you think of, dear readers?

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 8, 2015

October 9, 2015 Posted by | House Republicans, Newt Gingrich, Speaker of The House | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“The Enemy Within”: The Koch Brothers, Where Money Equals Freedom And Government Equals Evil

I love a good fight between bad entities, which is why I’m enjoying the brawl that’s taking place between the Koch Brothers and the Republican Party. Too bad they can’t both lose.

The controversy over the effort by libertarian ideologues Charles and David Koch to, in essence, buy the Republican Party provides us an opportunity to once again point out the fundamental malevolence of libertarian ideology. Libertarianism is nothing more than a shameless effort to glorify selfishness, which is why the ideology has such a narrow appeal.

In the libertarian world, the only citizen who has any actual rights is the wealthiest citizen. That citizen can pollute for free, pay people slave wages, put unsafe products on the shelves, and ignore common-sense work safety standards. Local, state and federal governments would, in essence, stand down as the tycoon abuses the population for profit.

This is the sick, dark vision of people like Charles and David Koch–a vision in which money equals freedom and government equals evil. It’s a vision in which being poor and sick means being dead and buried. It’s a vision in which severe economic inequality is considered the natural and logical order, the way things ought to be. It’s an amoral, abhorrent vision.

It was the vision that guided David Koch’s 1980 vice-presidential bid, as Vermont Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders noted in April 2014:

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 laws 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.

Libertarian ideology is nothing less than an existential threat to America’s security, cohesion, safety and health. It seeks to undo the social bonds that tie us together. It wishes to turn rich against poor and powerful against weak. It recognizes no moral code except for that established by the self-serving billionaire.

All of us–progressives, centrists, moderates, even the handful of rational conservatives left–have a moral obligation to fight the cancer of libertarianism and keep it from growing within the body of our democracy; if we don’t fight it, our democracy will soon wind up in hospice care. We must condemn libertarianism as a radical ideology that’s every bit as pernicious as the radical ideologies of the past. We must educate our young people to understand that the end result of Ayn Rand is a social and economic wasteland. We must challenge libertarian ideologues and denounce them for their efforts to destroy the policies that have kept our nation strong since the New Deal. We must, in essence, declare war on libertarian ideology, for it is at war with America’s best values.

Since libertarianism is an assault on our country’s protections and principles, one cannot be both a libertarian and a patriot.

The Kochs have chosen sides.

Which side are you on?

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 14, 2015

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Democracy, Koch Brothers, Libertarians | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Without Spending A Dime”: How The Koch Brothers Are Buying Silence And Undermining Democracy

Between buying elections, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch shop for big pieces of American media and culture. And, hey, why not?

We already knew of the Kochs’ efforts to buy Tribune Company, the parent of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, among other major newspapers. Then, last week, The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer took a thoughtful, in-depth look at the machinations that led New York’s PBS station, WNET, to pull from the air a documentary critical of David Koch, one of the station’s biggest funders. The story raises plenty of questions about the extent to which the public owns public media and the role of money in the arts and culture (see anything at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater lately?). But it also provides a rare intimate look at what happens when big money begets massive influence, often without a dime changing hands.

Mayer describes the fate of two documentary films. One took on income disparities in America by profiling the inhabitants of one tony Park Avenue building — including David Koch. Under pressure, WNET aired the film but, in a highly unusual concession, offered Koch airtime to rebut it after it aired. The second film, “Citizen Koch,” made by the very talented, Academy Award nominated team of Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, explored the influence that Koch and others like him have on our elections in the post-Citizens United world. But in the face of Koch’s wrath, the film’s distributor, a public television player with a history of gutsy moves, uncharacteristically lost its stomach for the fight and dumped the film entirely. Regardless, Koch decided to not give a hoped-for gift after the first film aired. Without lifting a finger or even taking out his checkbook, Koch cast a pall over the documentary film world.

The process that led to “Citizen Koch” being pulled from the airwaves illustrates exactly the point that Lessin and Deal’s film makes: Money can not only buy action in our democracy, it can also buy silence. As former Republican presidential candidate Buddy Roemer points out in the film, “Sometimes it’s a check. Sometimes it’s the threat of a check. It’s like having a weapon. You can shoot the gun or just show it. It works both ways.”

Koch and his brother Charles, both billionaire industrialists, pledged to spend a whopping $400 million on the 2012 elections, the overwhelming majority of it on behalf of Republican candidates. But that doesn’t just mean that Republicans are jumping to please the brothers — it means that many of those in positions of influence, regardless of their political leanings, need to take into account whether or not it’s worth the trouble of unnecessarily antagonizing the Kochs. Just as the public is unlikely to hear about the film PBS didn’t run, it’s almost impossible to know about the principled progressive stands that our allies in government decided not to take.

Koch’s billions are a formidable political weapon, even without owning any influential newspapers. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, it’s a more powerful weapon than ever, and we know it’s having an impact even when they don’t choose to deploy them. The result is a distorted government that responds to the whims of billionaires more easily than the needs of ordinary Americans.

As activists work to undo the damage being done by Citizens United, one of our main challenges is reminding voters of the dangerous, invisible effects that decision has on the country. It’s a remarkable irony that by trying to hide a film about the danger of money in politics, the Kochs may have made it clearer than ever before.

By: Michael B. Keegan, The Huffington Post, May 31, 2013

June 2, 2013 Posted by | Democracy, Koch Brothers | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Nouveau Riche Vulgarity”: Out Of Touch Meets Really Out Of Touch

Mitt Romney has taken lots of abuse for being an out-of-touch rich guy whose struggles to connect to regular folks often produce comical results. But the stories coming out of Romney’s one-day fundraising marathon in the Hamptons (three separate events at the no doubt spectacular vacation homes of Ronald Perelman, Clifford Sobel, and David Koch) on Saturday actually make Romney look good.

Because the thing about Mitt is this: He’s trying. He may be terrible at it, but he’s making an effort to connect with ordinary people. He talks to them almost every day. Yes, the encounters are awkward and superficial, but he wants to be one of the fellas, and he understands that this is something he could be a lot better at. Whereas the people who came to these fundraisers are actually as pretentious, condescending, and elitist as Democrats would like people to believe Mitt Romney is.

Let’s stipulate that among the attendees at these events were some folks who are thoughtful and modest, treat their servants respectfully, and believe that all human beings have value. But it wasn’t hard for the reporters outside to find others who were walking caricatures of nouveau riche vulgarity. There’s the woman who stuck her head out of her Range Rover as she sat in a line of other luxury cars waiting to be checked through and yelled, “Is there a V.I.P. entrance? We are V.I.P.” Then there’s this:

A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it,” she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. “Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.

“We’ve got the message,” she added. “But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point this woman buttonholed Romney and shared with him her insight about the importance of connecting with babysitters and nails ladies. That’s a big part of what you buy when you give a big fat donation—the right to personally deliver to the candidate your brilliant strategic insight. Every rich person thinks that their money proves how much they understand about politics, and it’s the candidate’s job to nod his head, look fascinated, and pretend that his perspective has been profoundly altered by the pearl of wisdom the rich person has just given him.

The fact that these really are Mitt Romney’s people, the ones for whom he will be working hard once he gets in office, doesn’t mean he doesn’t think plenty of them are idiots, because plenty of them are. And if he’s smart, he’ll make sure his advance team knows that never again should they allow reporters anywhere near his donors on the way into an event.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, July 9, 2012

July 10, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Creeps Meet At The Creeks”: Donors Arrive At Hamptons Fundraisers For Mitt Romney

As protesters assembled on a beach in advance of Mitt Romney‘s evening event at the home of conservative billionaire David Koch, the candidate slipped to East Hampton for his first of three fundraisers on this tony stretch of Long Island.

The line of Range Rovers, BMWs, Porsche roadsters and one gleaming cherry red Ferrari began queuing outside of Revlon Chairman Ronald Perelman’s estate off Montauk Highway long before Romney arrived, as campaign aides and staffers in white polo shirts emblazoned with the logo of Perelman’s property — the Creeks — checked off names under tight security.

They came with high hopes for the presumed Republican nominee, who is locked in a tight race with President Obama. And some were eager to give the candidate some advice about the next four months.

A money manager in a green Jeep said it was time for Romney to “up his game and be more reactive.” So far, said the donor (who would not give his name because he said it would hurt his business), Romney has had a “very timid offense.”

A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it,” she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. “Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.

“We’ve got the message,” she added. “But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.”

Among Perelman’s guests at the buffet lunch, which was topped off with chocolate mint cupcakes, were the Zambrellis of New York City, independent voters who attended a fundraiser for Obama four years ago.

Sharon Zambrelli voted for Obama in 2008 but has been disappointed with his handling of the economy and leadership style. “I was very disenchanted with the political process and he gave me hope,” she said, but ultimately: “He’s just a politician,” she said, an “emperor with no clothes.”

The Zambrellis scoffed at attempts by the Democrats — who mocked Romney in an ad Sunday as “great for oil billionaires, bad for the middle class” — to wage class warfare. “Would you like to hear about the fundraisers I went to for him?” Sharon Zambrelli said of Obama. “Do you have an hour? … All the ones in the city — it was all of Wall Street.”

“It’s not helping the economy to pit the people who are the engine of the economy against the people who rely on that engine,” Michael Zambrelli said as the couple waited in their SUV for clearance into the Creeks shortly after the candidate’s motorcade flew by and entered the pine-tree lined estate. “He’s basically been biting the hand that fed him in ’08. … I would bet 25% of the people here were supporters of Obama in ’08. And they’re here now.”

As traffic snarled along Montauk Highway in both directions, a Ron Paul supporter who said his name was Jim continually circled in his pickup truck that bore large signs for his candidate. “I’ve gotten a few thumbs up,” he said when asked whether his presence was having any effect. “He’s the man.”

The price to hobnob with Mitt Romney in the Hamptons was steep. At Romney’s luncheon with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the Creeks, supporters were asked to contribute or raise $25,000 per person for a VIP photo reception. (Among the co-hosts were lobbyist Wayne Berman, a former bundler for George W. Bush, as well as financiers Lew Eisenberg and Daniel Loeb).

At the evening fundraiser at the estate of Julia and David Koch on Meadow Lane in Southampton, the suggested contribution was $75,000 per couple — with funds going to Romney’s campaign, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

 

By: Maeve Reston, The Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2012

July 9, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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