How the Kochs and their Friends Engineered the Federal Shutdown, Part Two


Eric Zuesse

Eric Zuess; Investigative Historian – Posted 10/07/2013


This blog is the second part of a story chronicling the Koch brothers’ influence on the shutdown. Read the first part here.


On Thursday, 25 March 2010, the Toronto Globe and Mail bannered “David Frum Fired After Lamenting Republican Failure,” and reported that, “David Frum, the Canadian-born conservative pundit [and George W. Bush’s speechwriter from 2000 to 2003] who has been harshly critical of the Republican battle plan against President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul, is unapologetic after being fired Thursday from a right-wing think tank.

‘I’m going to remain a conservative whether they want me or not,’ Frum told The Canadian Press on Thursday night following his ouster from the American Enterprise Institute.” On March 21st, Frum had written at his blog, “Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes? … Too late now. … We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.”

On March 26th, CBC News headlined “David Frum Fired by U.S. Think-Tank,” and reported that, “Frum’s ouster from the American Enterprise Institute came a day after the Wall Street Journal attacked Frum, … son of the late CBC broadcaster Barbara Frum. … The Journal wrote … ‘He’s peddling bad revisionist history that would have been even worse politics.'” Also on the 26th, Mike Allen at Politico blogged “EXCLUSIVE: David Frum told us last night that he believes his axing from his $100,000-a-year ‘resident scholar’ gig at the conservative American Enterprise Institute was related to DONOR PRESSURE. … ‘There’s a lot about the story I don’t really understand,’ Frum said from his iPhone. ‘But the core of the story is the kind of economic pressure that intellectual conservatives are under. … The elite isn’t leading anymore. It’s trapped.'”

Frum thought that “the elite” of conservatism were the “intellectuals,” not the aristocracy. He was an ignoramus. He thought that AEI, the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, etc., were “intellectuals” instead of Ph.D’d suckers who had been selected and hired by aristocrats. And so, now he was out of a job, just a has-been servant who had been blackballed by them for saying something they wouldn’t permit, but who still retained the faith and thus refused to turn against his former sponsors and join the progressives. He still was such a fool as to believe the claptrap that had always chained him. He was nobody of high intellect — just a man of faith, even if he was too dumb to understand what faith is, or what he was.

Ironically, on 15 April 2010, The New York Times headlined “Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated” than the average American, which blew away Frum’s Platonic fantasy that those idiots were uneducated. This random phone-poll of American adults found 881 who said they were “supporters of the Tea Party movement,” and noted that whereas 23% of all adults “watch Fox News for most of their news,” this figure for these 881 self-declared Tea Party supporters was 63%. 18% of adult Americans said that they were “supporters of the Tea Party movement.” This moderate Republican newspaper omitted to mention some findings which were reported by CBS concerning that NYT/CBS Poll. CBS News online headlined “Tea Party Supporters: Who They Are and What They Believe,” and reported that 58% of them were gun-owners, 54% were Republicans, 41% were independents, and only 5% were Democrats. 57% gave George W. Bush a “Favorable” rating; only 27% gave him an “Unfavorable” rating.

Moreover: “Ninety-two percent of Tea Party supporters believe President Obama’s policies are moving the country toward socialism. Fifty-two percent of Americans overall [which included those Tea-Party respondents] share that belief. Asked what socialism means, roughly half of Tea Party supporters volunteered government ownership or control, far more than any other answer.” So, Tea Party supporters equated “socialism” with the classic definition of communism; for them, such nations as Sweden were just like the former U.S.S.R. Moreover, “Thirty percent of Tea Party supporters believe Mr. Obama was born in another country, despite ample evidence to the contrary. … Twenty percent of Americans overall … believe the President was not born in the United States.” It’s natural that people who acquire most of their “news” from Fox would think those false things, since that’s what these overeducated suckers had inundated themselves with. These were just people of faith. “Fifty-three percent of Tea Party supporters describe themselves as ‘angry’ about the way things are going in Washington, compared to 19 percent of Americans overall.” In fact, they were people of extraordinarily high faith, because only on the basis of faith could they believe the claptrap they did.

Fox “News” posted online, starting on 13 March 2010, a poll of the network’s viewers, with its headline question being “Who Wins If Health Care Reform Passes?” As of noon on March 29th, there had been 174,750 votes. 2% chose “Democrats.” 11% chose “Republicans.” 7% chose “Americans.” And a whopping 80% — 140,100 — chose “No one. The legislation is ruinous.” Fox’s viewers clearly possessed faith in the right-wing message. On 9 April 2010, the Washington Post bannered “Anger Over Health-Care Reform Spurs Rise in Threats Against Congress Members,” and reported that, “Anger over the health-care overhaul has led to a nearly threefold increase in recent months in the number of serious threats against members of Congress,” so that, “A few members have reacted to the threats by lowering their public profiles. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) canceled an event at a Youngstown community health center because he received a threatening letter,” etc. Fox’s viewers were inundated with Republicans saying that “The legislation is ruinous” to the nation. Fox’s viewers had faith in Fox, and in other fonts of fascism, and this meant that these viewers were “skeptical” (actually closed-minded against) regarding anything which challenged God’s Law and the “invisible hand” of God.

The Koch brothers, Charles and David, sons of John Birch Society co-founder Fred Koch, had devoted untold millions of dollars during decades, establishing and/or funding fascist think tanks such as the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Americans for Prosperity, and Heritage Foundation; and, through them, the Tea Party movement of 2009-10, and other “grass roots” conservative pressure-groups, which dialed America ideologically even farther to the right. On 16 April 2010, Justin Elliott of TPMMuckraker headlined “Maddow on Koch ‘Caught Red Handed’ Backing Tea Partiers (VIDEO,” and showed MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow exposing David Koch’s lie, when he had denied that he had initiated the Tea Party movement. Koch’s Americans For Prosperity had established the nonprofit front, “Patients First,” which supplied buses to move Tea Party suckers around the country free of charge to demonstrate against reforming healthcare. Koch in this video claimed to have initiated the Tea Party movement. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox “News” thus merely gave an enormous megaphone to David Koch’s (and other aristocrats’) “grassroots” brainchild, and so America’s “news” media were now full of “regular folks” condemning Obama and Democrats for having caused the huge federal debt and for having caused “a government takeover of health care” and for other “socialist” atrocities, which were “destroying America.”

On 14 April 2010, Kenneth P. Vogel at Politico bannered “GOP Operatives Crash the Tea Party,” and reported that “Just days after the widespread tea party demonstrations hit the streets a year ago,” a Republican political consultancy, Russo Marsh + Rogers, proposed the “Tea Party Express” which Koch’s fronts funded. This was the Republican “grass roots.”

David Koch was now basking publicly in his prominence. His wealth was estimated by Forbes at $19 billion, and cityfile.com honored him with a portrait as “one of New York City’s richest residents.” (Actually, he was its second-richest, after NYC’s Republican Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.) On 17 May 2010, Bloomberg News headlined “David Koch Toasted by Caroline Kennedy, Robert DeNiro,” and reported that NYC’s American Ballet Theater, which was a major beneficiary of his donations, and which “celebrates the opening of its 70th anniversary season tonight, will honor Koch and his quarter century of service on its board.” The Winter 2008 issue of MIT’s Spectrum (the newsletter flattering the university’s wealthiest alums, for more donations) headlined “Empathy for Others,” and praised him for his “empathy,” because “Koch gave MIT $100 million to create The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.” Koch had had cancer, and so he was pouring lots of money into such “Empathy for Others” — that’s others who had had his disease. If this would lengthen the life or reduce the misery of any of the tens of millions of Americans who couldn’t afford cancer treatments or diabetes care, etc., this would be incidental to Koch’s “Empathy for Others.” In MIT’s encomium, a sub-head was “Generous to Others,” and Koch was quoted as saying: “There are so many things you learn as you go through life, but it’s darn important to be extraordinarily decent, honest, principled, and generous to others. Life is more enjoyable if you are doing good works for people. Helping to create a successful, positive environment for everyone around you is an enormous psychological reward.”

As for everyone who was not around him, or whom he merely passed in his chauffeur-driven limousine en-route to the American Ballet Theater, or to his jet to his yacht, his impact might have been more like a few dozen very hard kicks in the face. These kicks would have been quite strongly-delivered. Koch was a vigorous 6-foot 5-inch fellow, who had captained his MIT basketball team in 1962. He went on, from there, to help his brother make even larger their jointly inherited fortune. But was he actually anything more than a smart and handsome psychopath? And is that better, or is it worse, than being a stupid and ugly psychopath? His aristocratic position eliminated all need for him to assault anyone in so uncouth a manner as a kick in the face. He would rather just write a check to Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation, or another of his fascist propaganda nonprofits, to achieve a similar effect, for virtually all Americans. But this eulogy, from his alma mater, headlined “Empathy for Others,” did not discuss such tactless matters.

However, some Democratic office-holders were receiving huge contributions from Republican far-right contributors. On 7 October 2010, a gossip column in the NYC Daily News bannered “GOP Guv Candidate Andrew Cuomo Has Room for at Least One Tea Party Sympathizer, David Koch,” and opened without correcting the headline and identifying Cuomo as the Democratic candidate and never a Republican: “Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo says there’s ‘no place in New York for Tea Party politics.’ [His Republican opponent was a nut-case Tea Party Republican who had no chance to win in this state, which is why Koch was endorsing this conservative ‘Democrat.’] But there sure seems to be a place in his campaign coffers for Tea Party sympathizer David Koch’s money. … [He] has donated more than $50,000 to Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign since last November. And his wife, Julia Koch, is listed as giving another $37,000.” Koch told the Daily News, “Julia and I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whom we like very much.” Cuomo, like Obama, was a Democratic Manchurian candidate; and Koch knew that Cuomo was like Obama, but whereas there was a chance to move the entire nation even farther into the fascist camp by challenging Obama with an even more conservative Republican Party, no such chance existed in the Democratic state of New York; so, Koch was funding “birther” and other conspiratorial propaganda against Obama, while funding Cuomo’s political campaign within the liberal state of New York. This was just smart politics for the fascist Koch, since the Republican candidate would never be competitive in such a State.

The New York Times bannered on 19 October 2010, “Secretive Republican Donors Are Planning Ahead,” and reported that, “A secretive network of Republican donors is heading to the Palm Springs area for a long weekend in January, but it will not be to relax after a hard-fought election — it will be to plan for the next one.” “Think Progress” headlined the following day, “MEMO: Health Insurance, Banking, Oil Industries Met With Koch, Chamber, Glenn Beck, To Plot 2010 Election,” and linked to the actual invitation-letter, which included a description of this cabal’s meeting, months earlier on June 26-29, which had included presentations by Steve Moore of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, and by Glenn Beck of Murdoch’s Fox “News” Channel, as well as by Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review, and by both Peter Wallison and Arthur Brooks of American Enterprise Institute, as well as by a number of representatives of several Koch fronts, such as Cato Institute and Americans for Prosperity. Nine members of the Koch family were listed as attending. Among the listed attendees was also “Sean Noble” of “Americans for Prosperity,” which was even listed there as being a “Front Group.” Also, “Eric O’Keefe” was listed from the “Sam Adams Alliance,” which was also listed there as being a “Front Group.” To be a “Front Group” for the Kochs was considered to be morally acceptable, even if the “Front Group” advertised itself as being (as the “Sam Adams Alliance” did on its website) as being “a non-profit, non-partisan, fiercely independent organization, dedicated to inspiring and encouraging grass-roots citizen activism.” (That’s a “front group”?)

In fact, the attendees at such cabals even prided themselves on fooling suckers. That’s the way such people as Glenn Beck, Rupert Murdoch, Charles Koch, and other right-wing leaders or fascists, have always been – power-crazed psychopaths. They like treating their customers with contempt, as being suckers. This is similar to muscle-flexing, for them. However, the many attendees from “Heritage Foundation,” “American Enterprise Institute,” “Independent Women’s Forum,” and even from the Koch-founded “Cato Insitute,”were shown there as being from a “Think Tank,” rather than from a “Front Group.” Also, several presentations were made by executives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Many attendees came from oil, coal, private equity, insurance, and Wall Street, firms.

Some well-known names attending were (usually with their spouses): Phil Anschutz, Steve Bechtel, Rich DeVos, Ken Griffin, Charles Krauthammer, Ken Langone, Fred Malek, Ed Meese, Kurt Pfotenhauer, Nancy Pfotenhauer, Art Pope, Peter Schiff, Steve Schwarzman, and Lynn Tilton. Some of these people (like the Kochs, whose father worked for Stalin and then founded an oil-pipeline giant) were heirs of aristocrats; some (like Tilton, who was born poor, and about whom Forbes headlined on 6 April 2011, “Lynn Tilton: Court Documents Reveal Accusations of Fraud”) were proudly lower-class gutter-fighters, who believed that their personal success proved their moral superiority over everybody else. The invitation letter, which had been leaked, was dated September 24th, and was signed simply “Charles,” and it came from Charles Koch; it listed 166 recipients, mostly hereditary billionaires and members of the Council for National Policy, which spun off from the John Birch Society when Reagan came into power and the far right thus became redefined. (However, these meetings were coming to dominate over even the meetings of the CNP; the Kochs were aiming to emerge as the leaders of the entire Republican Party, replacing the aging Richard Mellon-Scaife in that aristocratic function, and fulfilling in a more secular vein the leadership role that the fundamentalist Christian CNP had perfomed – and that, before the CNP, the John Birch Society, which had been co-founded by Fred Koch, performed.)

The registration-form said “The meetings are closed to the public, including media,” and “These meetings are invitation-only.” Members were advised never to mention, to anyone outside, anything about what transpired at the conference. The Newsweek for 25 October 2010 coincidentally featured several unconnected news reports displaying the surging libertarian conservatism throughout the nation, a culmination of 60+ years of Koch family, and other aristocratic, organizing for a future fascist Amerika. Jacob Weisberg bannered “High-Tech Hogwash: What’s wrong with Silicon Valley libertarianism,” and he mentioned, for example, a high-tech billionaire who “In a personal statement produced last year for the Cato Institute … announced: ‘I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.’ The public, he says, doesn’t support unregulated, winner-take-all capitalism, and so he won’t support the public any longer.” Daniel Gross headlined “The Prepaid Nation: New businesses target the ‘unbanked,'” and he reported that, “These business models have their origins in countries with low wages and poor living standards.” The focus was on fooling desperate poor people so as to extract from them as much as possible. The feature article was “America’s Holy Writ: Tea Party evangelists claim the Constitution as their sacred text,” and reported that Glenn Beck was “the most highly regarded individual among Tea Party supporters” according to a recent poll.

Other nations were already the type of aristocratic heaven that libertarians were modeling. “Heavy Cover in Russia” reported that a certain Russian journalist had uncovered “crooked Russian cops [who] had used” a company “in a complex scheme to steal $230 million. In response, Russian authorities jailed him without trial, and he died in detention after 11 months.” This was the type of nation that might have been approved by Cato’s high-tech billionaire. Another story was headlined “Haiti: Voter Beware,” and reported that “Haiti’s electoral commission … has sidelined 15 candidates without explanation and has excluded the Lavalas Party, which stands in opposition to the current President.”

In such nations, the aristocracy possessed virtually total control, and those nations represented the ideal towards which the Koch’s Tea Party Republicans were dragging an apathetic U.S.A., which believed that the “invisible hand” of God was always superior to any democratic hand of the inevitably sinful public. Later, on 2 February 2011, “Think Progress” headlined “Exclusive: Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan Spoke At the Koch Strategy Meeting,” and revealed that the new “House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)” had “confirmed his attendance” at the October Koch conclave. Shortly after that meeting, Ryan was admitted into the top leadership of Republicans in the House, to lead the charge to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Paul Ryan was a follower of the libertarian novelist Ayn Rand, so he naturally fit in with the libertarian Kochs. At a meeting of a Randian organization, The Atlas Society, in 2005, he had said: “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, would be Ayn Rand. … You can’t find another thinker or writer who did a better job of describing and laying out the moral case for capitalism. … There is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism. … I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are.”

As an example of the type of person attending here, consider Art Pope: On 9 March 2011, indyweek.com bannered “The Art Pope Empire: Media Outlets, Think Tanks and Election Machines,” and Chris Kromm described a mini-Koch, a small aristocrat who was taking over North Carolina politics in the same way that his heros, the Kochs, were taking over U.S. politics. Then, on 10 October 2011, in the New Yorker, Jane Mayer headlined “State for Sale,” and provided more details of his operation.

Such was America in 2010, after decades of catastrophic and unchallenged conservative rule undoing the reforms of FDR.

On 26 October 2010, Pam Martens at wallstreetonparade.com, bannered “Koch Footprints Lead to Secret Bush Slush Fund to Keep Fear Alive,” and she reported that a $16 million secret campaign producing, distributing, and advertising, “documentary” movies, that were titled “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” “The Third Jihad,” and “Iraniam,” was financed by a shell company, the “Clarion Fund,” which was the Koch brothers and their friends. The purpose of the “documentaries” was to stir up fundamentalist Christians, and also Jews, to fear Muslims, and to hate liberals who didn’t want Christians and Jews to defend themselves against Muslims. These aristocrats were stirring up the boobs to vote their cultural fears. Subsequent evidence suggested that the agreement that the Koch conferees came to at their secret meeting was probably to stir these hatreds specifically against Obama, by personalizing cultural hatreds in order to remove the “alien” Obama from the White House.

Then, on 6 September 2011, Mother Jones bannered “Exclusive Audio: Inside the Koch Brothers’ Secret Seminar,” and Brad Friedman of bradblog.com reported that some attendee had given him recordings of the sessions the next year, in June 2011, held at the Kochs’ Vail Colorado compound. “Several GOP governors made it to the Vail seminar in June, among them Florida’s Rick Scott, Virginia’s Robert McDonnell, and White House hopeful Rick Perry of Texas,” none of whom made their attendance public. Charles Koch greeted these people with a speech saying, “We’ve talked about our competitive disadvantage, how we’re overwhelmed in a number of areas. … One of those areas, of course, is the media – and we’re overwhelmed.” The keynote speech was from Fox “News” legal “expert,” and retired N.J. Superior Court Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, who “declared that the Second Amendment was created to ensure ‘the right to shoot at the government.'” The Judge added there, ‘if it is taken over by tyrants,’ but at this seminar’s start, Charles Koch himself had said of President Obama, “We have Saddam Hussein” in the White House, so that everyone there knew that they were attending a congregation which believed that, by rights, they or any other American would be a hero to assassinate the man who was now inside the White House. Many of the attendees had contributed during the year $1 million or more to the Kochs’ political operation. This list included many oil, gas, and coal, investors, as well as the hedge fund founder Ken Griffin, who had “bundled money for both President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain during the 2008 campaign.” Perhaps Griffin now wanted to shoot Obama because Obama still supported elimination of the enormous “carried interest” tax-dodge which was halving the taxation-rate on managers of hedge and private equity funds, such as Ken Griffin. Another such mega-donor was Paul Singer (via his flak Annie Dickerson, “who runs a foundation for Paul Singer”). Singer specialized in “vulture fund” investments that harmed and impoverished the world’s poorest nations, and he had been one of Rudy Giuliani’s biggest financial backers, as well as an enormous contributor to the Republican Party. John Templeton Jr., son of the namesake mutual funder and founder of the Templeton Foundation, the organization bribing scientists to endorse religion, also was. Charles Schwab was also on the list. And, of course, Dick DeVos of Amway was on the list. However, most of the names on this list of $1 million+ contributors to the Kochs’ political funds were obscure billionaires and centi-millionares.

Judge Napolitano’s speech, delivered on the event’s closing night of 27 June 2011, said: “Now, you’re home one night, there’s a knock on the door [thump, thump, thump,]. You open the door. There’s a guy with a gun. The guy says to you, ‘Give me your money. I want to give it away in your name.’ You said [sic] ‘What the heck is this all about?’ You call the police. Turns out it was the police. It was a federal agent! Come to collect your taxes!” (“Laughter and appause.”) This ideology he espoused – the belief that money the government takes in and spends is stolen and wasted, and that the money charities take in and spend is not but is instead purely voluntary and is productive – is Ronald Reagan’s heritage to America, and it’s a massive lie from the aristocracy and its agents. Judge Napolitano went on: “Charity comes from the heart! Charity is only charitable when it’s done voluntarily!” So: when a non-mega-rich person pays taxes that go for flood relief, or for education of poor children, and etc., that’s not “charity”; but when these rich thugs “donate to charity,” which ends up financing the university where they got their degree, or something else that helped them in their life, it’s “charity,” and it’s automatically superior to the donation-decisions that are made by the general public, via everyone voting in a democracy, which determines where roads will be built, and which determines whose children will be subsidized by how much in their public schooling, food stamps, and health care. The basic idea here is: Let the poor starve, unless I happen to know them and like them and donate to them. Judge Napolitano went on: “You know, Fox is a great place to work.”