Stillwater News Press

Opinion

July 3, 2014

JIM HIGHTOWER: Koch brothers tighten the nooses

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Koch boys, Charles and David, live in their own little world. It's a special world, enshrouded in a rarefied atmosphere created by the fumes emanating from their family's enormous stockpiles of wealth.

Thus, the two brothers have always felt very special, and they also expect those of us in the down-to-Earth world to treat them special, even heroic. The boys were born rich and right-wing, and they parlayed Daddy Fred Koch's millions into a huge industrial conglomerate that has made each of them uberbillionaires. This has further bloated their sense of self-importance, while also giving them the financial muscle to try transforming our democratic world of egalitarian ideals into their fantasy world of laissez-fairy, social Darwinism, ruled by supermen like ... well, like them, of course.

So, twice a year, the Kochs convene a secret summit of superrich supermen to plot strategy and pledge millions of dollars to their political transformation of America. In June, about 300 of the billionaire brotherhood gathered with Charlie and Dave at the St. Regis Monarch Bay Resort on the Southern California coast. As investigative reporter Lauren Windsor wrote in The Nation, the Koch confab, which bore the heroic title of “American Courage,” took over the entire luxury resort, including its golf course and restaurants, for three days, at the cost of nearly a million bucks – not counting charges for guest rooms.

David Koch provided a keynote talk, modestly titled “Saving America,” and attendees were treated to a feedfest of right-wing boilerplate from a gaggle of GOP congress critters summoned to the summit. The billionaires were especially delighted to hear Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell assure them that he would defend to his last sour breath their right to buy our elections.

Then, reports Windsor, the 300 Koch-headed supermen pledged to do just that, promising to put up $500 million this year to turn the U.S. senate over to Republican control.

You see, the beauty of our country's present system of government is that anyone is perfectly free to buy a member of Congress. And isn't that what democracy is all about?

The industrialist Koch brothers, of course, prefer to buy everything in bulk, and they've spent millions of dollars to purchase controlling shares of a whole flock of Republican Congress critters.

In fact, they have spent so much on their self-serving attempts to buy so many elections (from Congress all the way down to small-town school board races) that they've made themselves the poster boys of Big Money corruption. By huge margins, the public is demanding that Congress terminate the plutocratic infestation of our democratic system by Kochites.

How have the brothers responded? By buying another senator – this time a former-member-turned-lobbyist. Don Nickles, an Oklahoma Republican, became a powerhouse Washington lobbyist shortly after he left the Senate in 2005. His lobby shop pulls in some $8 million a year to run favor-seeking chores for the likes of AT&T, Exxon Mobil, FED EX, General Motors, and Wal-Mart. Now, Nickles is pulling the Koch's plow, using his Capitol Hill influence and contacts to try to defeat reforms that would shut off the funnels of secret, unlimited amounts of corporate cash that the Koch network puts into elections.

What we have here is a perfect example of Big Money looping full circle to strangle The People's right to be self-governing. The Koch boys and their gang of supermen write huge checks to candidates and front groups to elect lawmakers who serve their interests.

Some of those lawmakers, like Nickles, later slide into lucrative lobbying slots, getting paid a bundle by Koch & Company to fend off democratic, anti-corruption reforms.

Thus, the Kochs and their ilk can keep making bulk purchases of lawmakers ... and the circle is drawn ever tighter around democracy's neck.

Jim Hightower is the a former agriculture commissioner of Texas and now a syndicated political columnist.

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