Charles Koch and Libertarianism

Charles grew up in a radical family. His father Fred started the family petroleum business and helped both Hitler and Stalin build oil refineries before WW II. In the case of Germany, that refinery was built in the time before the war when everybody knew that Germany was building up its military to go to war. Therefore, it was not a particularly patriotic thing to do, on the other hand, before Pearl Harbor nobody expected the United States to enter the war, so Fred’s helping Nazi Germany might not have come back on him. He could hardly know that Japan was going to attack and that the US would enter the war because of it. Still, it was well known that Germany was planning war and would start one sooner or later, so it could easily be predicted that Fred’s profitable endeavor was going to cost human lives. What is it that they say about capitalism? Collect wealth; forget all else but self.  

Fred’s animus against Communism apparently stems for the Soviet’s actions during World War II; several of his Soviet friends were killed by the government. To be fair, we should remember that Stalin effectively eliminated an entire generation of Soviet citizens. Along with his personal loss, Fred resented that the refineries he built were destroyed in the war. 

Fred Koch was a founding member of the John Birch Society, which appears to have specialized in communist conspiracy theories and held a grudge against the federal government for putting restrictions on how its members made money. Putting their politics aside, what is important for us is how the John Birch Society went about the business of spreading their ideas. The founding members were all ultra-wealthy Caucasian Americans who ran large business, so they used modern advertising techniques to spread the word just like they would have in their business. They advertised heavily, and traveled door to door. Most importantly, the John Birch Society was secretive about who its members were, what they did in the group or out of the group, and how the group was organized and run. The secrecy of the John Birch Society seems to have been a reaction to the perceived nature of communism. After WW II, communism was thought to be an implacable conspiracy that was going to take over the world without anybody knowing.  

When he was a young man, and before he got involved in his father’s company, Charles was a member of the John Birch Society but only to make his father happy. He did not believe in all of the society’s ideas. Charles was turned off by the John Birch Society’s fears of Communism, but he was an enthusiastic student of its antigovernment policies. He was an enthusiastic supporter of something called the Freedom School in Colorado.  

The Freedom School was run by a man named Robert LeFervre. LeFervre was involved in a rightwing, self-actualization movement called, “I Am.” The I Am movement was started in the 1930s and still continues. The movement believes in the existence of a group called the Ascended Masters. These “Ascended Masters” are immortal, and believed to communicate to humanity through certain trained messengers; the leaders of the movement. You can see where this is going, right?  

In the 40s I Am got into trouble with the federal government over fraudulent statements sent through the mail. LeFervre escaped prosecution for his role in the infraction by turning state’s evidence. Not learning from the experience, LeFervre claimed to have supernatural powers, struggled through bankruptcy, and had an infatuation with a 14-year-old girl in later years. At the height of Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusades, LeFevre became an FBI informant, accusing Hollywood figures of Communist sympathies. For those who do not remember, Joesph McCarthy started a massive communist scare between 1950 and 1954. He was a US Senator at the time, and became nationally famous for his bogus claims. He also ruined the lives of a large number of innocent people by falsely accussing them.

In 1957, LeFervre founded the Freedom School, which offered one- and two-week immersion courses in the “philosophy of freedom and free enterprise. He favored the abolition of the state, but did not like the term anarchist. 

The Freedom School taught a revisionist history of the United States in which: 

  • Robber Barons were heroes not villains 
  • The Gilded Ages was the best time in US history 
  • Taxes are theft 
  • The President Roosevelt’s New Deal and the President Johnson’s Great Society were turns towards communism 
  • The Poor should be cared for only through private charity 
  • The South should have been allowed to secede from the Union because slavery was a lesser evil than military conscription 

In 1965, The New York Times described the school as a bastion of ultra-conservativism and mentioned Charles Koch as one of the prized students whose life had been transformed by the school. The Times described the school as implacably opposed to the federal government. In fact:  

  • The school wanted to scrap the Constitution in favor of one that limited the government’s ability to impose compulsory tax.  
  • It wanted the rewrite the Bill of Rights to include only one right; the right to own property 
  • It opposed all Medicare and antipoverty programs 
  • It opposed government-sponsored integration as several of its students were segregationists 

The above are some of Charles Koch’s intellectual foundations, and he has remained true to them to this day.  

The 1957 version of the Freedom School would certainly be attractive to someone who did not accept authority. By all accounts, Charles was that kind of person. His relationship with his father was quite rigid and demanding. According to Jane Mayer, a friend said of Charles Koch that he did not like anybody or anything to control him.  

Being told that the Gilded Age was the best time in US history will certainly attract wealthy students to your school. Many of the people mentioned in Mayer’s book, Dark Money, are grandsons of the Robber Barons that LeFerve made heroes. As far as I know, Charles was the only one to attend the Freedom School.  

In Charles’ case, the Freedom School curriculum must have seemed like a way to take control of his future business life and escape the rules of his father. We know that Charles adopted the secretive ways of the John Birch Society. At the annual Koch donor seminars, participants are urged to destroy all documents relating to the seminar, and the guest list is a very closely guarded secret.  

The Koch donor network is large and extensive. It is filled with ways for profit minded billionaires and millionaire to get their money into politics and keep their names out of the press. The justification putting your money in politics, beside just pure greed, is libertarianism. It is not my goal to offend believers of this philosophy. But the truth is that it harbors some very dangerous attitudes as can be seen in the Freedom School. 

In 1980, Charles’ brother David ran for president as the Libertarian Party leader. His platform was:  

  • Repeal of all campaign finance laws 
  • Abolish the FEC 
  • abolish all government health-care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid 
  • Abolish social security 
  • Oppose all income and corporate taxes 
  • Abolish Securities and Exchange Commission, the EPA, FBI, and CIA 
  • Abolish all laws that impeded employment, by which they meant minimum wage and child labor laws 
  • Abolish public schools 
  • Abolish FDA, OSHA, seat belt laws 
  • Abolish all welfare for the poor. 

When the Koch Brothers started the Tea Party its platform was nearly equal to the above.  

The point of all of this is that when we talk about rightwing donors, small government, free markets, reduced protections for the population, and lowering taxes we’re talking about Charles Koch. The formation of Charles Koch is the start of the mainstreaming of all those ideas, which use to be part of the lunatic fringe. According to Mayer, Charles Koch is the one who gathered the existing ideas, and people, that made up the Big Money backlash to the 60s and 70s. He’s the one who started taking advantage of existing tax laws to weaponize philanthropy, and he’s the one who built the massive, rightwing, dark money donor network to push his libertarian ideals on our country without our knowing.  

The Network – Political and Issue spending (501c4s and 501c6s) (Source Federal form 990 filings 2009-2013 ) 

American Future Fund $76.8M Americans for Prosperity $51.1M   
60 Plus Association $37.7M Americans for Responsible Leadership $27.9M   
Themis $24.8M Public Notice $22.2M Generation Opportunity $15.5M  
American Commitment $12.9M Center for Shared Services $11.9M   
Concerned Women for America $11.4M Citizen Link / Evangchr4 Trust $10.3M   
Libre Initiative $7.2M Concerned Veterans for America $7.2M Americans for Tax Reform $5.3M  
Americans for Limited Government $7.1M National Rifle Association $6.6M National Association of Manufacturers $3.6M  
Americans for Job Security $4.9M Coalition to Protect Patient’s Rights $4.3M Public Engagement Group Trust $3.4M  
National Federation of Independent Businesses and Related Groups $3.1M Revere America $2.3M   
U.S. Chamber of Commerce $3M American Energy Alliance $2.6M Susan B. Anthony List $1.5M  
Institute for Liberty $1.9M U.S. Health Freedom Coalition $1.5M West Michigan Policy Forum $1.2M  
Prosper Inc. $1.3M Heritage Action for America $1.2M National Right to Work Committee $1M  
Club for Growth $1.1M Citizens Awareness Project $1M National Taxpayer Union $787K Hispanic Leadership Fund $742K 
Veterans for a Strong America $937K RightChange.com II $850K Americans United for Life Action 624K State Tea Party Express $600K 
Republican Jewish Coalition $720K Ohio 2.0 $665K Coalition for American Values Action Inc.  $501K  
Americans for Jerusalem Ltd. $535K Morning in America $521K American Catholics for Religious Freedom $375K Arioch Project $320K 
Partnership for Ohio’s Future $500K Independent Women’s Voices $250K American Values Action $230K Tea Party Patriots $230K 
Benjamin Rush League $300K Freedom Vote $300k Ohio Liberty Council $210K Emergency Committee for Israel $200K 
Wisconsin Club for Growth $225K Citizen Media $156K Fair Arizona Independent Redistrict $150K Common Sense Issues Inc. $135K 
All Votes Matter $180K Citizens Against Government Waste $170K GOPAC Education Fund $121K American Principles in Action $100K 
Coalition to Reduce Spending $100K Protect Your Vote Inc. $100K   

The Network: Think Tanks, Academia, Policy (501c3s) (Source Federal form 990 filings, 2009-2013) 

George Mason University $28.9M Institute for Humane Studies $15.3M    
Charles Koch Institute $2.8M Donors Trust $2.1M Heritage Foundation $2M   
Florida State University $1.6M American Enterprise Insititute $1.6M Bill of Rights Institute $1.6M   
Federalist Society $1.2M Manhattan Institute $1M Clemson University $1M   
University of Arizona $961K West Virginia University $873K Liberty Source $770K   
Utah State University $815K Troy University $804K    
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) $671k Jack Miller Center $752K Foundation for Individual Rights in Education $580K   
Americans for Prosperity Foundation $627K Fraser Institute $590K Independent Women’s Forum $509K   
Young Entrepreneurs of Kansas $566K Florida Southern College $400K    
Suffolk University $482K Reason Foundation $421K Southern Methodist University $393K   
Market Based Management Institute $412K University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill $331K    
Brown University $301K Washington Legal Foundation $350 Cato Institute $257K   
American Council for Captial formation $325K Pacifica Research Institute $300K Northwestern University School of Law $205K Texas Public Policy Foundation $235K  
Texas A&M University $253K Acton Institute $288K George Washington University $202K   
Catholic University $215K Fund for American Studies $202K Association for Private Enterprise Education $172K   
College of Charleston $190K George C. Marshall Institute $185K Ohio State University $167K Tax Foundation $152K  
Baylor University $171K New York University $168K Indiana University $132K Ayn Rand Institute $125K National Center for Policy Analysis $120K 
Hilldale College $143K Grove City College $140K Loyola University, New Orleans $109K Texas Tech University  $109K Oklahoma State University $105K 
Center for Independent Thought   $115K Laffer Center for Global Economic Growth   $100K Philanthropy Roundtable $100K   
Brooklyn Law School $100K Council for National Policy $100K Florida Gulf Coast University $100K   

Are We Attracted to Fascism?

Written by Adam De Salle on Medium 

Originally posted: Sept 4, 2020

Image for post

Before one can even consider answering whether humanity is attracted to Fascism, they need to work out: What is Fascism? Well you might think to just Google it or to look in a dictionary, and if one does that they get a rather vague definition, such as this one provided by the Oxford English Dictionary, “An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organisation.” That doesn’t really help us pin down what Fascism actually is, yes, it is authoritarian and nationalistic and usually right-wing, but what is it? Well the next course of action would be to look at the etymology of the word ‘Fascism’, which goes all the way back to the early Roman Republic. The heads of the Republic were protected by bodyguards called Lictors, who waved a stick called a ‘Fasces’ made up of a bundle of birch wood tied together with a red cord. As a metaphorical object the fasces represented the different social classes tide together working towards a common goal. As individual birch rods they were weak, but together they were strong. 

Okay so now we are getting somewhere, but we still aren’t totally there. Well thankfully Umberto Eco, an Italian author who lived under Mussolini’s reign, compiled 14 signs of Fascism. Eco agreed Fascism is confusing because there isn’t one unifying principal or ideology, so he tried his best to give 14 general examples of what fascism looked like: fascists do not take kindly to criticism, they appeal to nationalism through Xenophobia, the fascist regime is built on a frustrated middle class, it gains steam through collective populism (minority rights are given up for the larger group), ‘Newspeak’ or simplified digestible ways to communicate rule fascist discourse, the cult of tradition, a rejection of modernism, people are susceptible to the cult of action for action’s sake, thrive off fear of difference and racist rhetoric, a fear of others wealth, permanent warfare, political elitism, reliance on a death cult, and power transfers to sexuality. That is of course a long list, and includes general examples of what Fascism may look like, and that’s the thing, Fascism comes in many different forms — it is not always the same. 

But at the end of the day, George Orwell argued in his essay ‘What is Fascism?’ that fascism as a word is pretty much meaningless. Orwell stated that if people could decide on a working definition, it will inevitably become over used and watered down. Fascism is often used as a favoured attack from the left to mean anything from a shrewd venture capitalist to a person overly concerned with grammar (much like the right use socialist or communist as a slur). But just using it as an insult removed the historical significance of the word, belittles the suffering. Eventually it gets to the point where our liberal use of the word has caused it to lose its linguistic power, and so when a real fascist appears, our use of the word to brand them becomes irrelevant and no intervention takes place. So now we understand the generality of Fascism, and possibly that we will never be able to truly define it, why do we gravitate towards it? 

Well French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and militant anti-psychiatric Felix Guattari argue that the desire for oppression comes from the belief that people should repress their desires, should conform, assimilate, obey. Through this technique of repression, the masses are primed to accept Fascism. Fascism isn’t just something that happens within governments, but rather inside all of us — it is a fascination with, and love of, power. People yearn to be ruled, protected, humiliated, and dominated, argue Deleuze and Guatteri. They are aroused by their unconscious desire to submit to strength; the despot satiates the need for a providing father and a nurturing mother. An example of this, although fictional, is Darth Vader from Star Wars — the Empire is often interpreted as a commentary on the Fascism of the Nazi’s — whose name is widely thought to come from the German for father, ‘Vater’, and who is revealed to be the father of the main character Luke Skywalker. Powerful leaders and shows of force all carry certain psychosexual elements. 

We live in a society prone to inducing tremendous amounts of anxiety, specifically the fear of death, or the death instinct as Deleuze and Guattari put it. Hence, we have the desire to live in a conflict-free existence, a life without danger or struggle, and all one has to do to obtain this existence is to give up their freedom and conform to the expectations of the Fascist leader. This desire for oppression isn’t just a social function, but a psychological phenomenon spread and sustained by typical Freudian psychoanalysis, and it’s concept of the ‘Nuclear Family’ — a mother, a father, and ourselves as the children. Through the heralding of an ideal family unit, people are taught to deny desire, to be ashamed of their sexual urges, any atypical fantasies or predilections, to give into their inclinations is perverted. For Deleuze and Guattari, traditional psychoanalysis is part of an entire social scheme dedicated to making people feel inferior, scared, and inadequate. 

Could they be Russians?

Rightwingers suffer from a kind of intellectual blindness. I don’t mean to be insulting. You all take these myopic, detailed points of view and miss the big picture. That ex-president spent 5 years lying about everything. The leftwing press talked about it when it had to, but the rightwing press had convinced you all that everything in the leftwing press was a lie, so you all ignored the leftwing as trolling or some such. Those 5 years of lies paved the way for the big lie that, that ex-president had the election stolen from him. You all followed right along. That ex-president tried to legally make his case for not losing the election and lost 64 times in court. But the rightwing press went on and on about procedural errors or meaningless bits of video, so you all ignored that significant bit of evidence that you all are wrong. What you ignored was that procedural errors are part of the game in the law. They are the lawyers responsibility. If the lawyer conducts their case badly, it is not an excuse to retry the case. A new case has to be brought, and that ex-president’s lawyers must assuredly did that and achieved nothing. Again taking the myopic view, the internet was alive with affidavits and videos that supposedly proved something. However, we have to assume that, that ex-president’s lawyer presented all those affidavits and videos in court and they weren’t enough to keep him from losing 64 times. You all ignored all of that and insist that the elections was stolen. For two months that ex-president lies about that election in his tweets and in the press. It was the sum total of all that ex-president’s lies, and their consequences, that got him banned from social media. No amount of political bargaining could change the results of the Electoral College. A presidential call begging for votes in Georgia did no good because state officials followed the law instead of a leader. The law really has to be primary in a free society if it is to remain free and all the officials who put the law over a leader should be rewarded for their patriotism. Then Flynn suggested taking up arms. Then other rightwing politicians did the same. Then ambitious politicians in Congress (Yes, Cruz wants to be president so he acting out of self-interest not pride in the cause.) decided to obstruct the EC certification, which is a ceremonial event. That ex-president held a rally that day. And I admit that his words were not violent. However, at the same rally, Guliani called for a “trial by combat”, and Mo Brooks suggested going to the Capital and kicking some ass. He didn’t have to be violent because others did it for him. The Capital Insurrection was completely predictable taking in to consideration that ex-president’s lies, the echoing of those lies in the rightwing press, and the self-serving calls for violence by rightwing politicians. But you all ignore all of this and to defend yourselves focus on that ex-president’s nonviolent words. Your social media habit of focusing on one fact really isn’t very smart. It might “win” arguments on social media platforms, but it is no way to evaluate politics. You’re killing our democracy (Could you be Russians in disguise?)

Article Rebuttal about minority businesses

Published: 1/16/2020

https://katv.com/news/nation-world/biden-faces-backlash-over-vow-to-prioritize-minority-owned-businesses

In some group or other someone asked for a rebuttal to the obvious systemic racism found in the included article. First, let us put the article in context. It’s from an ABC station, which is part of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. SBG is as gung-ho a supporter of that ex-president as OAN or Newsmax. SBG is also the company that, at the beginning of that ex-president’s administration, required all of its stations to broadcast the exact same political message which forced the views of its owner into 70% of the country’s homes. Second, as of when I wrote this, there are no other articles complaining that Biden’s plans to help minority businesses through the covid pandemic to be found. No other media outlet is making this claim.  

The backlash SBG is touting is 6 tweets; 1 from Ari Fleischer who hasn’t worked in government since the Bush administration, 1 from Brit Hume who had a reputation as a conservative journalist, but has followed the “Right” on its unceasing march toward radicalism, 1 from an out-of-work rightwing politician who lost in the 2020 elections by 43 points, 1 from a staff writer at Bongino, which Politico says was primary is pushing that ex-president’s lost election lies, 1 from a British journalist, and 1 from a woman who owns a company that does diversity training.  

Of course, all these people are entitled to their opinions, but I don’t need to know them. Ari Fleisher, he’s a respectable man, who worked for a respectable president, but he is hardly an expert on race relations, or a particularly insightful commentator on the state of our country. Brit Hume is busy back tracking from another tweet where he tried to shield that ex-president from his guilt by claiming that the Capital Coup was probably infiltrated by leftist extremists. Even if it was, this does undo the damage caused by all those Trump and confederate flags flashing across our TV screens, that ex-president’s words and action over the last 5 years, or all the threats and rhetoric spread across social media by rightwing extremists.  There is no doubt that the main body at work there were supporters of that ex-president and his lies about a fraudulent election. The out-of-work politician is African American, but this does not bestow on her any sort of automatic expertise on race relations, on the Biden administration’s plans, or even on the federal government. She has run twice for federal positions and lost both times, so she has no real experience in government. The staff writer works for Bongino, which I have already talked about. His Facebook page, which has been inactive since September 2020, is a stream of pro-Trump and anti-democrat articles most of which were written by him. One article about Kamala Harris promoting violence has been flagged as a lie and fact checking has been provided. So, the staff writer is hardly objective or known to tell the truth. Hopefully, the reason his Facebook page has been inactive is because he lost his job. British Journalists are not incapable of making insightful comments about the United States, but they would not be my first choice as a source. The woman who owns the diversity training company might indeed have something valuable to say. She certainly should have some insight into race relations though I would question her expertise on the Biden administration.  

Here is the kicker. The article states two things: 1) that minority businesses have received no economic relief so far, 2) that the Biden administration has made no announcements about the specifics of its policy. So essentially, there really is not anything to criticize yet. By SBG’s admission, minority, small businesses are due something. They have, after all, received nothing and the federal government’s job is to look out for ALL the people of the United States not just the favored few. And, since the specifics of the Biden administration’s policy are unknown, we cannot accuse it of favoritism or bias. 

Fleisher would have us believe that we should only be referring to small businesses and not dividing them by race, which on the face seems reasonable. But, minority small business owners know that they were excluded the last time. How do we reassure them they won’t be overlooked this time if we do not say so? When we do say so, what should we call them if not what they are; minority small businesses? 

Hume comes across as insisting that helping minority businesses is discriminatory against Caucasian American, small business owners. That was my first impression any way. I remember him from his days on TV news, and I certainly do not think of him as a card carrying racist. He only tweeted 5 words, so he probably should explain himself more so people do not misunderstand or presume.  

Klacik, again, just states it is discrimination, but she invokes the image Martin Luther King as support. As stated before, Klacik is a republican politician which means she supports the majority of the republican issues.  She supports gun rights and school choice according to justfacts.votessmart.com. She is anti-socialism, which she defines as giving money to the government. She is pro-life as you would expect, and she believes that she too lost her election because of nonexistent voter fraud. And finally, the majority of her campaign money came from outside her district because she ran an effective social media campaign that caught the attention people who were not allowed to vote for her. I could find nothing online that states her position on race in general or racial issues specifically. Again, we are left looking for more information.  

Frankel claims President Biden is going to violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the 14th amendment. The Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and later sexual orientation and gender identity. Since we do not know the details, we cannot judge any potential discrimination, so we’re left to our imaginations as to what he means. The 14th amendment granted citizenship and equal civil and legal rights to African Americans and slaves who had been emancipated after the American Civil War, including them under the umbrella phrase “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” He seems to be taking the amendments words out of context. Without explanation, we cannot know what Frankel is talking about. But, considering who he works for, and considering what he has written, we can assume the worst until proven otherwise. 

Lloyd just gives us a common-sense statement that should apply to everyone all the time.  

Valdary makes a good point about the fact that saying we are going to help minority small businesses will cause Caucasian, small business owner to resent minorities more. This is a valid point. I am sure that many Caucasian, small business owners will resent minority, small business owners getting help first. And, they will resent minority, small business owners even more if they get more than they do. It is human nature, but acceptable. We are required to squash our worst impulses for the good of others.  

However, I can see no remedy for her predicament. Minority, small business owners deserve to know that help is on the way since they have been overlooked. Yes, that is going to stir up jealousies among some, but we have already talked about the unfairness of not talking about priorities. For Arican Americans saying nothing and doing something is a surprise while saying nothing and doing nothing is history regardless of what middle class African Americans think. A further point is that when Biden states his priorities, he makes it possible for voters to hold him accountable. We never saw accountability from that ex-president.  

This article is really is of no use at all when trying to understand racial tension is the United States, or the Biden administration’s goals. The backlash is obviously made up. It consists of brief, vague statements from a collection of random people about race. Unfortunately, I have come to expect this kind of thing from far too many rightwing sources. This article probably only serves to inflame rightwing victimization by implying that minority, small businesses are likely to get all of the pandemic economic relief.  

The person who said that Biden’s policy was an example of systemic racism is one of the people know for his ability to exaggerate and distort for the cause. Nothing you say to him makes an impression. Unfortunately, too many people on social media regards others as not deserving of respect, so leading them on with distortions and lies becomes either fun, or a matter of national security.  

My lessons from this exercise are read anything from the Sinclair Broadcasting Group very carefully. The sad truth of the modern world is that we have to read everything very carefully to find the truth. Never read the outrageous headlines without reading the article. And, journalism based on tweets is almost certainly misleading and most certainly lazy.  

Fascism is …. ?

Published 1/15/2021

Fascism is an ugly word, and nobody liked to be called a fascist. Nonetheless, fascism is real and it has definite characteristics. This blog is an extended version of my response to a comment in a Facebook group. I had in mind Timothy Synder’s book “The Road to Unfreedom” and my observations of the United States when I wrote it.

The first is innocence. Fascism believes with its whole heart that it is innocent. Whatever mistakes have been made in the past have made no stain on fascism’s consciousness. For example, removing immigrant children from their parents as punishment for crossing the border illegally does not affect fascism’s self-image. The rest of us know that taking any child from its parents, for any reason, is the most inhumane thing anyone can do.  

Second, because it is innocent, fascism always believes it is right. With supreme confidence, fascism ignores anything and everything said to it by the Other. There can be no question in fascism’s mind that, to go back to the previous example, separating children from their parents was the right thing to do. For the rest of us, we do not take children away without due process even in cases of abuse. Yes, we remove the child from danger, but then follows a process of investigation as to whether that removal was justifiable. In the case of fascism, after having separated 5,400 children from their parents, and storing them in cages, fascism only attempted to put those families back together because a federal judge told it that it must. Even then, 545 children could not be returned to their parents because they had most likely been deported without them.  

Third, fascism ignores history and focuses only on the moment. On January 6th, 2021, that ex-president made a speech at a rally. After the speech, they marched on the Capital and stormed it. Fascism looks at the conciliatory words of that speech, and ignores what led up to it. For 2 months that ex-president had been claiming that he won an election that he lost. During those 2 months he lost every legal challenge he presented. But along with the legal battle there was the hype from his supporters in the federal government. That ex-president’s personal lawyer called for trial by combat in one of his speeches. Representative Mo Brooks, speaking at the same rally as that ex-president, encouraged people to “stop by the Capital” and “kick ass.” Rep. Brooks claims his words were rhetorical, but those who listened to them certainly did not hear them that way. Fascism also ignores all of the social media hype that went on before the Capital Coup. Paler, a free speech social media platform sprang up, and the far-right took them at their word and ranted and raved about the need for violence to correct the injustice of the United States’ most transparent and secure election. Then there were all those Facebook groups and Tweets where people were more muted, but did the same. Fascism ignores all of this and say that, that ex-president did not incite violence. After all, he only said, 

But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help. We’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. 

Fascism sees itself as a victim. Fascism must see itself and being strong and fighting righteously against an oppressor. In the United States, there have been a series of boogiemen; figures of oppression who are blamed for everything. President Obama is one as are Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party, and the mainstream media especially CNN. Because of fascism’s self-proclaimed innocence, anything they disagree with is a violation of their world view, which they will insist on destroying even beyond reason.  

Fascism lies about everything by simplifying it until it is meaningless. Not all speech is the same, and not all violence is the same. Equating the George Floyd riots with the Capital Coup is dumb. The first was about a social issue; racial justice. The second was an attack on the government of the United States. Obviously, the second has the larger impact on what is left of our free society. Too many of us have fallen into the habit of allowing sarcasm take the place of critical thinking. The simple might feel good as an expression of pasion, but it is not an expression of rational thought. In other words, fascism hates complicated ideas.

Is that ex-president a fascist? He certainly acts like one. After the 2016 election, what was then called the Alt-right, sort of white supremacy light, claimed responsibility for getting him elected. That ex-president said nothing. Over the last 5 years he has refused to condemn rightwing violence even after individuals shot people, or set off bombs, quoting his words. After the Charlottesville Riot he claimed there were good people on both sides, and during the Capital Coup, that ex-president attempted to “calm the waters” by telling the protestors to be peacefully and not to worry because they are “well loved” and “very special.” 

The carrot and the stick is a favorite trick of fascist leaders. They insult their opposition and reward their followers sometimes separately and sometimes at the same time. After Charlottesville, that ex-president first made statements about the evils of intolerance and hate. Many of us thought that we had finally heard a “presidential statement” from that ex-president. But then he followed it up with good people on both sides. These two statements were made on different days. He was still young in his power, so he led with the carrot so that those who did not support him would feel good, but then came the underhanded reward for those who trying to install intolerance. By the time of the Capital Coup things were different. Yes, he called for peace, but he did it belatedly and felt the need to make sure those who were storming the Capital, killing people, damaging government property, stealing, and interrupting the work of government did not feel insulted.  

Are his followers fascist? Most them probably do not know what the word really means. They can argue definitions but they have no idea of what a fascist government looks like, what it does, or how it works in real terms. I imagine a lot of them as regular people who work hard in a country that is owned and controlled by multinational corporations and monopolies, and they just cannot get ahead let alone keep what they have. They are angry at their circumstances, which is understandable. They do not expect people to solve their problems for them, which is admirable. However, they also have a deep-seated fear of the Other, anyone outside of their immediate family and friends, which they have been taught by the unscruppulous. Unfortunately, that ex-president’s followers are so damn sure of themselves that there is no talking to them about anything. The righteousness of their cause, no matter how misguided in terms of maintaining a free society, is their driving instinct.

Fascism is sold to the unwary and its only antidote, at least as far as I know, is holding on to our ideals of toleration and forbearance. We have to constantly remind everyone we talk politics with that a free society, one where everyone has a political voice, is far better than a society that grants personal freedom to a selected few. We have to constantly remind everyone that true politics is about maintaining peace among people who do not believe the same thing, who live their lives in differing ways, and who do not all look the same. Politics is not about a means to an end. When politics is conducted as warfare it is oppressive and tyrannical to somebody. When we give up on the idea that we might be wrong, or that information we do not agree with might in fact be the truth, we are falling into fascism.

Dark Money: Secret Sponsors and covert operations 2009-2010: Climate Denial

Based on Dark Money by Jane Mayer

Published on 12/19/2020

As a reminder, or, in case the reader has not read about the weaponizing of philanthropy, I want to put down the highlights before we get started. The first thing is the definition of the term Big Money. I have defined the term to mean the billionaires and millionaires who own private fortunes, and spend their money manipulating US politics through an ever-growing series of private foundations, front groups, and networks of front groups with the goal of protecting their businesses from social responsibility. 

Big Money has considerable influence over our political system and Congress because of the money they have spent since the 1980s directed at changing people’s minds. The first step was taking advantage of existing tax law to establish private foundations. Big Money used these foundations to set up think tanks, which were directed to produce research, op-eds, papers, etc. that supported Big Money’s philosophy and political goals.  

Big Money’s philosophy, at any other time, would be relegated to the far-right fringe. That is where it was, and that is where it has always been until now. However, by setting up privately funded research centers attached to public and private universities, Big Money has been able to inject their point of view into main stream education pushing the US further to the right under the cover of a presumably objective, educational entity. Also, these beachheads influence the school they are attached to as the far-right philosophy espoused there is spread by word of mouth. Another way they have secretly influenced US education is by sponsoring academic programs that teach their philosophy under false pretenses. The example that Mayer gives is the Law and Economics program that pushed the idea that legal decisions should also include economic impact, which for example, in a case involving worker’s rights would mitigate the decision in favor of the corporation. 

Furthermore, Big Money used their foundations to sponsor Students and professors. Private foundations offer fellowships to students who are willing to study Law and Economics taking advantage of their poverty, or greed, to teach them far-right points of view without telling them what is happening. The fellowships given to professors were so that they could write books which were politically useful. These books did not have to go through academic peer review, and so many were criticized after the fact for shoddy research and/or incorrect conclusions.  

Big Money’s agenda is libertarianism. They insist that the federal government should not be involved in the market place as that interferes with their personal liberty by which they mean profits. They insist on reducing the number and effectiveness of regulations that protect the populous of the United States because, again, those protections interfere with their personal liberty by which they mean profits. Furthermore, they insist on reducing taxes because they reduce profits. The result of these three things is that Big Money can collect wealth faster. They have little or no benefit for the Middle Class or Poor.  

The take away from the first part of Mayer’s book is the that concentrated wealth is a danger to any free society. Big Money has used its wealth to push their ideas about how our country should be run. Those ideas benefit them, and create tyranny and oppression for the rest of us. We cannot fault them for their ideas. In fact, these ideas have been around for an exceptionally long time. What we can fault them on is the fact that they have so much money to spend pushing their ideas. Charles Kochs personal fortune is estimated at $50 billion, which means he can spend a dollar a second for 1,585 years before he runs out of money. Big Money did not openly and honestly argue their libertarian ideal of small government. Instead, they took the dishonest route of hiding their activism behind front groups with important sounding, but nondescript names to make their goals seem to be the will of the people. In other words, Big Money’s concentrated wealth has been used to drown out the political voices of others and influence people and society to make things better for themselves.  

As Mayer tells the story of climate catastrophe denial in the United States between 2009 and 2010, it is focused on Michael Mann’s “hockey stick graph” and the defeat of the Republican idea of capping and trading carbon pollution. (There is a copy of the graph at the end of the blog.) 

Mayer says by 2008, Mann, like most experts, had long since concluded that the scientific evidence was overwhelming and that human beings were endangering the climate that they depend on by burning too much oil, gas, and coal. To support her point, Mayer gives several facts. The first is that the Pentagon, as cautious a bastion of technological nonpartisanship as there is, concluded that the danger from climate change is real. The second is that an official U.S. National Security Strategy report declared the situation a growing national threat, and predicted that if nothing was done climate change would directly threaten the health and safety of the people of the United States. The third is that the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest and most prestigious scientific society, was equally if not more adamant. It warned that “we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes,” with” potentially “massively disruptive consequences.” 

President Bush and candidate Obama both thought that climate change was an important issue, and the general consensus was that a climate change deal would be struck under the Obama administration. Mayre writes, 

“On the night that Obama clinched the democratic nomination, he spoke passionately about climate change, vowing that Americans would look back knowing that ‘this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.’ Once in office, he pledged to pass a ‘cap and trade’ bill forcing the fossil fuel industry to pay for its pollution, as other industries did, rather than treating it as someone else’s problem. Cap and trade is a market-based solution, originally backed by Republicans, requiring permits for carbon emissions. The theory was that it would give the industry a financial incentive to stop polluting. It had worked surprisingly well in previous years to reduce industrial emissions that caused acid rain. By choosing a tested, moderate, bipartisan approach, the Obama administration and many environmentalists assumed a deal would be winnable.” 

Acording to Mayer, the reaction of the fossil fuel industries was beyond what anybody expected. She explains,  

“We are talking about a direct challenge to the most powerful industry that has ever existed on the face of the earth. There’s no depth to which they’re unwilling to sink to challenge anything threatening their interests even if it’s science and scientists involved in it.” 

Mayer tell us that,  

“Mann contended that ‘the fossil fuel industry is an oligarchy.’ Some might dispute that American oil, gas, and coal magnates met the dictionary definition of a small, privileged group that effectively rules over the majority.”  

She further expands on Mann by saying, 

“But it was indisputable that they funded and helped orchestrate a series of vitriolic personal attacks that would threaten Mann’s livelihood, derail climate legislation, and alter the course of the Obama administration.” 

Who were the main players? Members of the extractive energy industries who contributed to the Koch donor network. 

  • Corbin “Corby” Robertson Jr.: “…the grandson of one of Texas’ most legendary oil barons, Hugh Roy Cullen. Robertson, a former captain of the football team at the University of Texas, from which he graduated in 1969, had taken a bold, unorthodox risk with his inherited oil fortune. He had bet almost all of it on coal, reportedly accumulating by 2003 the single largest private cache of coal reserves in America. He owned, by one count, twenty-one billion tons of coal reserves – enough to fuel the entire country for twenty years.” 
  • Harold Hamm and Larry Nichols were two of the most successful pioneers in fracking, the environmentally dangerous process by which water and chemicals are injected underground into rock formations to extract oil and natural gas. Mayer writes, “…Hamm, the founder of Continental Resources, was a self-made billionaire wildcatter whom the National Journal likened to John D. Rockefeller. While his nearly billion-dollar divorce settlement and amazing rise from being born the youngest of thirteen children in a family of sharecroppers made tabloid history, business journals were more focused on his company, which almost overnight had become the face of fracking in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale.” “On the opposite end of the social scale, was Larry Nichols, head of Devon Energy and later chairman of the American Petroleum Institute, the foremost trade association for the oil industry. A graduate of Princeton and a former Supreme Court clerk, Nichols had urged his family’s Oklahoma energy company to buy Mitchell Energy after he noticed that its natural gas output was climbing because of fracking. Nichols combined the process with his own company’s expertise in horizontal drilling to ‘unleash what became known as the unconventional gas revolution,’ as the energy industry historian Daniel Yergin wrote in The Quest.” 
  • Philip Anschutz: Who, Mayer tells us, was “…heir to a western oil-drilling fortune, who himself discovered a fabled oil field on the Wyoming-Utah border in the 1980s, after which he diversified into ranches, railroads, and communications.” 
  • The  Koch Brothers: They had investiments in chemicals, pipelines, and other aspects of fracking.  
  • The bit players: Mayer writes, “The [Koch donor] network included many smaller operators too. There were oilmen from Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado and coal magnates from Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. The largest distributor of propane canisters in the country was also involved. Participating too, were many of those whose businesses provided ancillary support to America’s energy sector. In addition to the Kochs there were numerous other owners of pipelines, drilling equipment, and oil service companies, including the legendary Bechtel family, which made billions building refineries and pipelines in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and elsewhere.” 

Mayer tells us that according the scientific community of 2008, the fossil fuel industries were facing a severe challenge. She writes,  

“If the world were to stay within the range of carbon emissions that scientists deemed responsible in order for atmospheric temperatures to remain tolerable through the mid-century, 80 percent of the fossil fuel industry’s reserves would have to stay unused in the ground. In other words, scientists estimated that that the fossil fuel industry owned roughly five times more oil, gas, and coal than the planet could safely burn. If the government interfered with the ‘free market’ in order to protect the planet, the potential losses for these companies [and the people who owned them] were catastrophic. If, however, the carbon from these reserves were burned wantonly without the government applying any brakes, scientists predicted an intolerable rise in atmospheric temperature, tirggering potentially irreversible global damage to life on earth.” 

As you can imagine, the fossil fuel industry’s attitude toward this inevitable crisis was both predictable and long ago established. Mayer quotes Lew Ward, retiring chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, in 1997, 

“’We’ve been fortunate the past couple of years to have a Republican Congress,’ he noted. But he warned the various policy ‘skirmishes’ the industry had survived recently were nothing but ‘a dress rehearsal for the real show … the possible ‘Carbon Tax’ that could help pay the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.’ Ward perceived accurately that the climate change issue was coming and argued that if the ‘radical environmentalists ‘off-oil’ agenda’ succeeded, ‘we can look down the road a little way and see an industry under siege.’ He vowed, ‘We are not going to let that happen. You can take that to the bank!’” 

Mayer points out that fossil fuel industries, and the oil industry in particular, have always had the favor of the federal government. For example, in 1913, they won the oil depletion allowance “on the theory that oil exploration was risky and costly.” It enabled the industry to deduct so much income when it hit gushers that many oil companies evaded income taxes altogether. In 1926 it was raised. It took almost 50 years for this tax loophole to be closed, and even then it was closed only for large drilling companys. The oil depletion allowance is still available to small drilling companies even to this day.  

Global warming first broke in the news in 1988 when climate modeler James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, testified about it before a Senate committee. Mayer tells us about the perception of climate catastrophy in the 80s and 90s, 

“During his presidency, George H. W. Bush, like most political leaders of both parties at the time, accepted the science without dispute. He vowed to protect the environment, promising to fight ‘Greenhouse Effect with the White House effect’ and sending his secretary of state, James Baker, to the first international summit of climate scientist, the International Panel on Climate Change. Although Bush was a Republican, he was not an outlier in his party. For decades, the environmental movement had enjoyed bipartisan support.” 

Bush the Elder served as president from 1989 to 1993. The Koch brothers started their efforts to change the political landscape of the United States by building a network of “conservative” donors in 1984 with the founding of Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). By 2009, Big Money was up and rolling with a network of front groups to do whatever was needed.  

The truth is that Big Money was founded in the oil industry, and its most powerful leaders are members of the oil industry. So, it is logical that Big Money would focus a great deal of its time, effort and money on protecting the oil industry. Mayer writes,  

“Kert Davies, the director of research at Greenpeace, the … environmental group, spent months trying to track the funds flowing into a web of nonprofit organizations and talking heads, all denying the reality of global warming as if working from the same script. What he discovered was that from 2005 to 2008, a single source, the Kochs, poured almost $25 million into dozens of different organizations fighting climate reform. The sum was staggering. His research showed that Charles and David had outspent what was then the world’s largest public oil company, ExxonMobil, by a factor of three. In a 2010 report, Greenpeace crowned Koch Industries, a company few had ever heard of at the time, the ‘kingpin of climate science denial.’” 

There was a peer-reviewed study conducted by Robert Brulle at Drexel University that covered climate denial funding from 2003 to 2010, and found that half a billion dollars had be spent on what he described as a massive campaign to manipulate and mislead the public. Mayer says,  

“The study examined the tax records of more than a hundred nonprofit organizations engaged in challenging the prevailing science on global warming. What it found was, in essence, a corporate lobbying campaign disguised as a tax-exempt, philanthropic endeavor. Some 140 conservative foundations funded the campaign, Brulle found. During the seven-year period he studied, these foundations distributed $558 million in the form of 5,299 grants to ninety-one different nonprofit organizations. The money went to think tanks, advocacy groups, trade associations, other foundations, and academic and legal programs. Cumulatively, this private network waged a permanent campaign to undermine American’s faith in climate science and to defeat any effort to regulate carbon emissions.” 

The cast of characters that Brulle found should be well known to anybody interested in the dark money involved in right-wing politics. Mayer tells us,  

“Among those he pinpointed as the largest bankrollers of climate change denial were foundations affiliated with the Koch and Scaife families, both of whose fortunes derived partly from oil. (They have been discussed in Weaponizing Philanthropy.) Also heavily involved were the Bradly Foundations and several others associated with hugely wealthy families participating in the Koch donor summits, such as foundations run by the DeVos family, Art Pope, the retail magnate from North Carolina, and John Tempelton Sr., an American mutual fund pioneer … Brulle found that as the money was dispersed, three-quarters of the funds from these and other sources financing what he called the ‘climate change counter-movement’ were untraceable.” 

The reason so much money was untraceable, according to Mayer is DonorsTrust. She writes,  

“Founded in 1999 by Whitney Ball, an ardent libertarian from West Virginia who had overseen development of the Koch-funded Cato Institute, DonorsTrust boasted one key advantage for wealthy conservatives. It made their contributions appear to be going to Ball’s bland-sounding ‘donor-advised fund,’ rather than to the far more controversial conservative groups she distributed it to afterwards. The mechanism thus erased the donor’s name from the money trail. Meanwhile, the donors retains the same if not bigger charitable tax deductions.” 

The way DonorsTrust works is that you open an account, rather like at an investment bank, and they will do what you tell them to do with your money. They will invest it to make money, or donate it to whomever you tell them to with the goal of “protecting liberty”. Furthermore, if you tell them, you can make your liberty supporting donations anonymously. You of course get a tax deduction for “donating” money to your account. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, in his 2013 article Here’s How Billionaires Launder Their Climate-Denial Cash referred to DonorsTrust as “ the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement.” 

Mayer gives us some idea of how active DonorsTrust was at the time. She writes,  

“Between 1999 and 2015, DonorsTrust redistributed some $750 million from pool contributions to myriad conservative causes under its own name. Ordinariy, under the law, in exchange for thier tax breaks, private foundations such as the Charles G. Koch Foundation were required to publicly disclose the charitable groups to whom they made their grants. It was one way to assure that these public service organizations were in fact serving the public. But donor-advised funds defeat this minimum transparency.” 

“The directors of DonorsTrust, who functioned as a committee coordinating grants, consisted of top officials of several of the most important institutions in the conservative movenment, including American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Institute for Justice, a libertarian legal center started by Charles Koch.”  

Proponets of DonorsTrust like to point to the Tides Foundation as the preexisting counterbalance to DonorsTrust. They figure one donor advised investment fund jusifies another. The truth of the matter is that neither one should exist; however, the main ingredient missing from the Tides Foundation is untold numbers of front groups working in unisen for a common goal. Comparing the amounts of money donated given on their webpages, DonorsTrust has donated about half the amount of money as Tides, but in approximately a third of the time, so DonorsTrust is much more active than the Tides Foundation.  

It is a common human failing to justify our mistakes with the mistakes of others. The thinking goes if the “left” has a donor advised fund then we should have one two. Holding ourselves to a higher standard is hard when it appears to put us at a disadvantage. Such is the slippery slope of thinking of those who disagree with you as an enemy and conducting politics as a winner-take-all proposition. With tolerance and forbearance removed from politics what is left is a power struggle that cannot help but to spiral down into oppression and tryanny as each side forces the other into more and more radical measures to assure their “freedom.” 

The significance of DonorsTrust is that it shows libertarian and conservative donors were moving further underground. Mayer writes,  

“What Brulle notices as he studied the money behind climate change denial was that as criticism of those blocking reformed increased around 2007, tens of millions of dollars of contributions from fossil fuel interests like Koch and ExxonMobil seemed to disappear from the public fight. Meanwhile, a growing and commensurate amount of anonymous money from DonorsTrust started funding the climate change countermovement. In 2003, for instance, Brulle found that DonorsTrust money was the source of only 3 percent of the 140 groups whose financial records he studied. By 2010, it had grown to 24 percent. The circumstancial evidence suggested that the fossil fuel interests bankrolling climate change denial were deliberately hidding their hands, but Brulle couldn’t prove it. ‘We just have this great big unknown out there where all the money is coming from,’ he said.” 

As you can imagine, the Kochs and DonorsTrust were close. Mayer tells us,  

“In 2010, for instance, the single largest grant that [DonorsTrust] made to any organization was a $7.4 million gift to the Americans for Prosperity  Foundation (AfP Foundation), whose chairman was David Koch. There funds accounted for about 40 percent of the AfP Foundation’s funding that year, belying the notion that it was genuine grassroots organization. Americans for Prosperity (AfP), meanwhile, not only took a lead role in organizing the Tea Party rebellion but also spearheaded a national drive to block action on climate change, aiming in every way possilbe to merge the two movements.” 

Big Money’s climate catastropy money went to work spreading the idea that climate science was uncertain, and that it had been for some time, which was a lie. Mayer writes,  

“…in 1998, the American Petroleum Insitute (API), along with several top oil industry executives and conservative think tank officials, colluded on a secret plan to spend $2 million to confuse the press and the public about the growing scientific consensus. The plan called for recruiting skeptical scientists and training them in public relations so that they could act as spokesman, thereby adding legitimacy and cover to the industy’s agenda.” 

Citing Chris Mooney’s book, The Republican War on Science, Mayer describes this plan as the brainchild of William O’Keefe, “a former chief operating officer at (API) and a lobbyist for ExxonMobil who became president of the George C. Marshall Institute (GMI), a conservative think tank in Virginia. … GMI was ‘funded by the Scaife, Olin, and Bradley foundations … it had begun as a center for Cold War hawks vouching for President Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ missile shield, but expanded into debunking other scientific findings that could be construed as liberal or anticorporate. Money from threatened corporate interests, meanwhile, frequently funded the research.” The three private foundations mentioned were discussed indepth in Weaponizing Philanthropy. There’s a link below. 

As late as 2003, over 75 percent of Republicans supported strict environmental regulations, according to polls. Mayer writes about how this changed,  

“For help on their public relations campaign, in 2002 the opponets of carbon regulations hired Frank Luntz, who warned that ‘the environment is probably the issue on which Republicans in general – and President Bush in particular – is most vulnerable.’ To win, he argued, global warming deniers had to protray themselves as ‘preserving and protecting’ the environment. In his confidential memo, ‘Winning the Global Warming Debate,’ which eventually leaked to the public, Luntz stressed as his number one point that opponents of carbon regulations ‘absolutely’ must ‘not raise economic arguments first.’ In other words, telling the truth about their financial interests was a recipe for losing.” 

“The key, he went on, was to question the science. ‘You need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate,’ he advised. So long as ‘voters believed there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community,’ he said, regulations could be forstalled. Language that ‘worked,’ he advised, included phrases like, ‘we must not rush to judgement’ and ‘we should not commit America to any international document that handcuffs us.’” 

Once you start to deny science in the name of one cause it is easy to deny it in others. Wikipedia lists these areas where Republicans have denied science. “acid rain, the efficacy of condoms in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the health impacts of excess dietary sugar and fat, the alleged link between abortion and breast cancer, the status of endangered species, the efficacy of abstinence-only sex education programs, the therapeutic potential of adult stem cells, and more.” 

Next Mayer gives some examples of how Big Money denied science and climate catastrophy. According to Mayer, the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank founded by Charles Koch, began putting out a steady stream of anti climate change reports, Apocalypse Not: Science, Economics, and Environmentalism, and Climate of Fear: Why We Shouldn’t Worry About Global Warming. Apocalypse Not was written by Michael Shellenberg whose training is as a cultural anthropologist not a climate scientist. He appears to have spent most of his life as a climate activist and environmentalist, but that is hardly a basis for expertise. There is a critical review of his book below.  

There is an op-ed from June of 2020 that was written by Shellenberg in which he claims to appologize for participating in a climate change scare. It is a nonappologic appology that backhandedly critcizes people for their alarmism over climate change and in no way suggests that any of his previous points of veiw were wrong. 

Climate of Fear was written by Thomas Gale Moore who is currently an emeritus senior fellow at the Hoover Institution who specializes in international trade, deregulation, and privatization. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago, and was a part of the Reagan administration. Again, he is not, and never has been, a climate change expert. 

Mayer tells us how Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph was attached in 2003. For those who are unfamiliar with Professor Mann’s work, the “hockey stick graph,” which is reproduced below shows the average temperature of the Earth from the year 1000 to 2000. It is significant because it shows a rapid climb in temperature that coincides with the Industrial Revolution.  

Mayer describes some of Mann’s critics, 

“The credentials of the critics, Sallie Baliunas and Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, looked impressive. Soon was identified as a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. But it later emerged that he had a doctoral degree in aerospace engineering, not climate science, and had only a part-time, unpaide affliliation with the Smithsonian Institution. Without disclosing it, he had accepted more than $1.2 million from the fossil fuel industry from 2005 to 2015, including at least $230,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. It was later revealed that some of the payments for his papers were marked as ‘deliverables’ by the fossil fuel companies.” 

Moving on, Mayer addresses the 2000 presidential election, and the candidacy of Al Gore, a climate activist, that spurred further increases in Big Money’s activities and outlays against climate change. She writes,  

“That election cycle, Koch Industries and its employees disbursed over $800,000 in support of his opponent George W. Bush and other Republicans. Koch Industries’ political action committee was spending more on federal campaigns than any other oil and gas company, including ExxonMobile. The companies expeditures on Washington lobbying expanded more than twenty-fold from 2004 to 2008, reaching $20 million. The Kochs’ corporate self-interst had by then thoroughly trumped their youthful disdain for engaging in conventional politics.” 

“Political contributions from oil, gas, and coal companies became increasingly polarizeed during this period. In 1990, the oil and gas industry’s political giving was skewed 60 percent in favor of Republicans and 40 percent in favor of Democrats. By the middle of the Bush years, 80 percent of the industries giving went to Republicans. Giving from coal-minning firms was even more lopsided, with 90 percent going to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsible Politics.” 

As you can image, all that money swung things in Big Money’s favor by pushing their point of view into the main stream. James Inhofe, republican senator from Oklahoma claimed that “global warming was the largest hoax ever perpetrated on the people of the United States”. Mayer says he routinely recieved donations from Koch Industries PAC. 

Inhofe’s director of communication was Marc Morano. Morano gained his reputation by participating in the smear campaign of John Kerry involving Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, which tried to discredit Kerry’s military service, and introduced a new term to the campaign politics lexicon. The term swiftboating is a pejorative American neologism used to describe an unfair or untrue political attack. The term is derived from the name of the organization “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” because of their widely publicized—and later discredited—campaign against 2004 U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry. 

When you look up Marc Morano on Wikipedia you find, 

“Morano mocks scientists in television debates, which he describes as fun. In one blog post he wrote ‘We should kick scientists when they’re down. They deserve to be publicly flogged’, but then said ‘come on, it was a stupid expression.’ While some climatologists who felt they had been bullied were reluctant to give their names, Michael E. Mann openly said that Morano ‘spreads malicious lies about scientists, paints us as enemies of the people, then uses language that makes it sound like we should be subject to death threats, harmed or killed.’ Morano says he merely posts public contact details, and suggests to his followers that they say what they think to the scientists, who he says ‘live in a bubble’ and don’t hear from the public. He says this is refreshing, healthy, and ‘good for the public debate’. At the end of 2012, Media Matters for America named Morano the ‘Climate Change Misinformer of the Year.’” 

There are two major things wrong with what Morano is quoted as saying. The first is that science is not supposed to be open to public debate. As an example from history, let us talk about the number pi (3.1415926535…). Pi is an irrational number, which means that it never ends. Its decimal points gone on forever. Pi describes the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter. It is a universal constant. In other words, pi is the same on Earth, Venus, Mars, and the Sun. In 1897, the Indiana legislature tried to legislate pi to be a simple 3.0, which is mathematically impossible. Suddenly, diameters are too short when calculated. Circumferences are too long when calculated. Circles become triangles because circles with a ratio of pi as 3.0 cannot exist. Yes, the Indiana legislature made geometry calcuations simpler for school children, but public debate distorted into uselessnes a fundamental geometric constant.  

It should be obvious that Morano’s public debate comment is a self serving distortion to justify his continued interferrence. In a sense, science is done with public debate. Peer review, the process by which those not doing the research review the work that has been done before it is published, is a kind of public debate. The goal is to get objective feedback from those who are not involved but who understand the subject. 

What would happen if extractive energy companies were involved in the making of climate science conclusions? Nothing, because there would never be any. Extractive energy would fight every idea that threatened their economic future. If there is one thing I have learned in my life it is that nobody who has spent billions building an oil refinery is going to be convinced that the common good requires them to tear it down. Individual profit trumps social responsibility every time.  

Going back to the real world, once a scientific conclusion is published it is open to debate by anybody and everybody including people who do not understand science. Nobody believes that scientists never make mistakes. There is always room for doubt in science. Geraint Lewis wrote an article called Where’s the proof in science? There is none. He describes science like this,  

“So, science is like an ongoing courtroom drama, with a continual stream of evidence being presented to the jury. But there is no single suspect and new suspects are regularly wheeled in. In light of the growing evidence, the jury is constantly updating its view of who is responsible for the data. But no verdict of absolute guilt or innocence is ever returned, as evidence is continually gathered and more suspects are paraded in front of the court. All the jury can do is decide that one suspect is more guilty [more correct] than another.” 

It is the inconclusive nature of science, and people’s misunderstanding of that nature, that provided Big Money their opening in climate denial. There is no absolute proof that gravity exists; but, the idea that somebody denies its existence is unthinkable. We all believe in gravity because of our personal experience with it.  

Climate science is a little more difficult to put in context. We do not know if we have personal experience with it or not. The weather in my town seems the same it has always been. Some years are drier, and some years have been wetter, but the change in average temperature is same as far as I can tell. The thing to remember is that climate change is a global problem so the amount of data involved is immensely greater. It is the global rise in temperature that worries scientists, not the change in my back yard.  

Since our personal experience is of no use, we have to turn to the opinion of scientists, which as we saw above can be a little wishy washy. On NASA’s frequently asked questions page about climate change it states,  

“Yes, the vast majority of actively publishing climate scientists – 97 percent – agree that humans are causing global warming and climate change. Most of the leading science organizations around the world have issued public statements expressing this, including international and U.S. science academies, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a whole host of reputable scientific bodies around the world. A list of these organizations is provided here.” 

Ninety seven percent is probably as close as we are ever going to get towards consensus in 2020. In 10 or 15 years, when personal experience catchs up with science, when Manhattan is underwater, when there is a desert in the middle of the United States, and when climate refugees are swarming all over the globe, we’ll see a consensus of 100%. But of course then it is too late. The damage has been done.  

Big Money spent their mountains of money spreading doubt in the population of the United States, and people believed them. They believed Big Money’s self serving statements spoken out of the corner of their mouths. The fact that 3% of climate scientists do not believe in climate change yet is not a sign that the other 97% are part of a conspiracy. Yet that is the kind of conspiratorial thinking that climate deniers would have us believe. Let us face the problem, to spread doubt about anything you have to say negative things about it, and if you are going to say negative things about something that 97% of scientists and scientific entities agree on, you are going to have to lie.  

Climate change is a scam they say, but never explain how or why. Who is making money with this scam? We never hear. Our denial is based on ideological purity they say. “We’re not conforming the ideology of the majority.” That is a we are victims statement. By playing the part of the outraged victim, climate deniers, or deniers of just about anything, are making a plea for sympathy and portraying their opponent as evil. The consensus only exists because the science has been determined by the funding they say. Again, who is the mastermind that is directing all the scientific funding into climate change science? Where is the centralized control that would make such a thing possible?  

For me, the whole of climate denial is a scam. It was bought and paid for by Big Money, and a great many others followed along. That is what this whole blog, and Mayer’s book, have been about. Big Money has used the ideological purity argument from the beginning. Libertarianism, until the 1980s, was always a far-right fringe philosophy. In their own minds, they were victims because they were ignored by anybody with any sense. But, they had a boat load of money. They figured out how to spend it and turned the world on its head. Where is the centralized control of the right wing in US politics? It is in the Koch donor network, the Scaife Foundation, the Bradley foundation, and all the think tanks, pundits and lobbyist attached to them. If this paragraph does not read like the pot calling the kettle black, I do not know what more I can do.  

The second thing that wrong with Morano’s statements has to do with their threatening and exaggerated nature. Scientist do not deserve to be flogged. No human being deserves that. Saying that they do is one of the “white lies” that people tell because they think they’re making a point with exaggeration or sarcasm. That is not what they end up doing. The original reporter may have recognized the statement as sarcasm, and she might have reported it as such, but the more that quote gets circulated the more simplistic becomes its interreptation until it simply becomes in somebody’s mind, “Scientist should be flogged.” These “white lies” serve no purpose other than to inflame people and manipulate them.  

I case you had not guessed, Morano’s educational background is political science, which he studied at George Mason University the home of the Koch run lobby the Mercatus Center. He is not an environmental scientist. 

The administration of Bush the Younger was a bonanza for the fossil fuel industry, which had thrown its weight behind his election. Mayer writes,  

“The coal industry in particular had played a major role in delivering West Virginia’s five electoral votes to Bush in 2000, sealing a victory that would have gone to Al Gore had he carried the formerly democratic state instead. ‘State political veterans and top White House staffers concur that it was abasically a coal-fired victory,’ The Wall Street Journal wrote.” 

Mayer also tells us that Vice President Dick Cheney did a masterful job of manipulating the president. Bush the Younger’s stated position was that he was going to do something about greenhouse gases, but Cheney shifted the government’s position to arguing that the science on global warming was inconclusive and required more study. Mayer writes,  

“The Bush administration weakened regulations, for instance, on coal-fired power plants. Taking a position that was eventually overturned in the courts, it exempted mercury emissions from regulation under the Clean Air Act, reversing the position taken by the Clinton administration. Fracking got a boost too. Cheney used his influence to exempt it from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, over objections from the Environmental Protection Agency. The fracking industry boomed. Within five years, Devon Energy, Larry Nichols’ company, would rank as the fourth-largest producer of natural gas in the United States. Harold Hamm would be a multibillionaire. Cheney’s former company Haliburton also became a major player in the fracking industry, illustrating that free-market advocates greatly benefited from government favors.” 

“In all the Bush energy act contained some $6 billion in oil and gas subsidies and $9 billion in coal subsidies. The Kochs routinely cast themselves as libertarians who deplore government taxes, regulations and subsidies, but records show they took full advantage of the special tax credits and subsidies available to the oil, ethanol, and pipeline business, amoung other areas of commerce in which they were engaged. In many cases, their lobbyists fought hard to protect these perks. In addition, their companes benefited from nearly $100 million in government contracts in the decade after 2000, according to Media Matters, a … watchdog group.” 

When President Obama took office the fossil fuel industry was not only eager to keep the perks they had gotten from Bush the Younger, but were much more militant in its opposition to climate change science that ever before. Mayer refers to Harvard political scientist Theda Skocpol author of, The Tea Party and the remaking of Republican Conservatism, who noted 2007 as the turning point. 

“At this critical juncture – when Americans in general might have been persuaded of the urgency of dealing with global warming,” Skocpol notes, opponents fought back with new vigor. The whole ideological assembly line that Richard Fink and Charles Koch had envisioned decades earlier, including the entire conservative media sphere, was enlisted in the fight. Fox Television and conservative talk radio hosts gave saturation coverage to the issue, portraying climate scientists as swindlers pushing a radical, partisan, and anti-American agenda. Allied think tanks pumped out books and position papers, whose authors testified in Congress and appeared on a whirlwind tour of talk shows. ‘Climate denial got disseminated deliberately and rapidly from think tank tomes to the daily media fare to about thirty to forty percent of the U.S. populace,’ Skocpol estimates. 

It is important to remember that as President Obama took office the United States derived over 85 percent of its total energy from oil, gas, and coal, so the Obama administration was taking on a formidable foe. Mayer describes the two-prong effort of the Obama administration to confront climate catastrophe. The first prong was appointing Lisa Jackson as the EPA administrator. She announced that “she intended to treat greenhouse gas emissions as hazardous pollutants and regulate them under the Clean Air Act.” The Supreme Court had upheld this authority in 2007 according to Mayer. The second prong, Mayer says, was the introduction of a cap-and-trade bill to limit greenhouse emissions.  

Even before Obama was inaugurated, Americans for Prosperity began taking shots at cap-and-trade. Mayer describes how AfP circulated a pledge requiring elected officials to oppose new spending to fight climate change, put their lobbyists to work and aired a television commercial about a spoiled slacker. Mayer describes the commercial like this,  

“’Hey there,’ said a [shady]-looking young man, plucking away at a plate of canapes. ‘I’m Carlton, the wealthy eco-hypocrite. I inherited my money and attended fancy schools. I own three homes and five cars, but always talk with my rich friends about saving the planet. And I want Congress to spend billions on programs in the name of global warming and green energy, even if it causes massive unemployment, higher energy bills, and digs people like you even deeper into the recession. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even make money off of it.’” 

Without a hint of irony, Mayer points out that the commercial was heavily funded by David Koch who,  

“of course, had inherited hundreds of millions of dollars, attended Deerfield Academy, owned four homes (a ski lodge in Aspen: A Belle Époque mansion, Villa el Sarmiento, in Palm Beach; a sprawling beach house in the Hamptons; and an eighteen-room duplex … in Manhattan), and drove, among other cars, a Land Rover and a Ferrari.” 

Mayer says that AfP hoped the commercial would convince the public that government action on climate change posed a threat to the pocketbook of ordinary people in the United States. However, the reality of cap and trade is very different. She writes,  

With ownership of refineries, pipelines, a coal subsidiary (the C. Reiss Coal Company), coal-fired power plants, fertilizer, petroleum coke manufacturing, timber, and leases on over a million acres of untapped Canadian oil sands, Koch Industries alone routinely released some 24 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere a year. Any financial penalty that the government placed on carbon pollution would threaten both their immediate profit margins and the long-term value of the enormous investments they had in still untapped fossil fuel reserves.” 

As was mentioned before, AFP tried to until their climate denial efforts with the Tea Party. Mayer tells us,  

“Soon the climate issue was creeping into Tea Party rallies too. As protesters erupted in generalized rage in the spring and summer of 2009, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, and the other secretly funded Tea Party groups succeeded to a remarkable extent in channeling the populist anger into the climate fight.  At the first big “Tax Day” Tea Party rallies on April 15, 2009, while most protesters were flaying Obama’s bank bailouts and stimulus plan … offshoots of Americans for Prosperity sent “Carbon Cops,” who pranced into Tea Party rallies pretending to be overreaching emissaries from the EPA, warning that backyard barbeques, churches, and lawn mowers were about to be shut down because of new, stricter interpretations of the Clean Air Act.” 

I object to the cynicism at work here. Big Money and their multibillion dollars multinational companies are hiding who they are and lying to the people of the United States. They scared people with losing their barbeque and all the while they were the far greater polluter. Their only interest is themselves. They feel no social responsibility to anyone. Their money is their greatest weapon, and they have used it well. 

There was a darker covert campaign that went along with the overt one. Mayer writes,  

“Tom Perriello, a freshman Democratic congressman from Charlottesville, Virginia, who favored the cap-and-trade bill, discovered this in the summer of 2009 when constituents started bombarding his office with angry missives. Reams of faxes arrived from voters, many representing local chapters of ordinary liberal groups like the NAACP and the American Association of University Women. Under official letterheads, they argued passionately that the cap-and-trade legislation would raise electric bills, hurting the poor. But an effort by the congressman’s staff to research the angry constituents revealed that the letters were forgeries, sent on behalf of a coal industry trade group by Bonner and Associates, a Washington-based public relations firm.” 

As was discussed in blog about the Tea Party hecklers also appeared at Perriello’s town hall meetings. These hecklers were not spontaneously angry citizens, but people who had been trained by AfP and FreedomWorks on how to interrupt meetings and what to say when speaking. The will to participate might have come from the people involved who had been indoctrinated by all the libertarian-based materials produced by Big Money’s think tanks and their network of front groups, but the hidden back stage directors of the “conservative” movement told them what to say and how to say it. 

As you would imagine talk radio hosts were in on the game as well. Mayer tells us,  

“Rush Limbaugh told his audience, ‘It’s not about anything folks, other that raising taxes and redistributing wealth.’ Glen Beck warned listeners it would lead to water rationing. “This is about controlling every part of your life, even taking a shower!” 

Which of course it was not. Climate denial has been bought and paid for by Big Money to protect their bottom line. The reader should remember from the blog on the Tea Party that Glen Beck had a cash arrangement with FreedomWorks, which was run and funded by David Koch at the time, to insert their texts into his show as his own. That deal netted him over $1 million. 

Republicans in Congress were not silent either. Mayer tells us,  

“Torqueing up the fear, Republicans in Congress quoted from a study by the Heritage Foundation that predicted it would add thousands of dollars to Americans’ energy bills and lead to devastating unemployment. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office put out an authoritative study contradicting this, demonstrating that the average cost to Americans would be the same as buying a postage stamp a day. But John Boehner, the Republican minority leader in the House, dismissed the real numbers, suggesting anyone who believed them could ‘go ask the unicorns.’” 

Despite Big Money’s efforts a cap-and-trade bill was passed by the House on June 26, 2009, and It took an extraordinary amount of horse trading between environmentalists and the affected industries. Mayer’s point of view is that the bill did not make anybody happy. She writes,  

“Many environmentalists thought the final product was so flawed that it wasn’t worth the trouble. But for those looking for Congress to reach the kind of moderate compromises Obama had been elected to deliver, it was a first step.” 

The obstacle, according to Mayer, was that democratic Representatives from conservative, fossil-fuel-heavy states like Perriello feared there would be a heavy price to pay because as the threat to the extractive energy industry grew so would its determination to protect itself. 

The libertarian network of front groups was also active. CO2 is green and Coalition for Responsible Regulation, which were fronting for Corbin Robertson the owner of the largest, privately, owned cache of coal, went to work misinforming the nation. Mayer describes how. 

CO2 is Green put out an ad in Montana where democratic senator Max Baucus was already under attack for his work on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The ad stated that there is no evidence that CO2 is a pollutant and that higher levels of CO2 would benefit the world. Then it urged voters to tell Senator Baucus to vote against Cap and Trade. Robertson’s name was nowhere to be found. This was an obvious attempt to confuse voters in the district of a congressman important to the process. 

Coalition for Responsible Regulation, a previously unknown and unheard-of group, took legal action to prevent the EPA from taking steps to regulate greenhouse gases. It also managed to get Texan bureaucrats to join the suit despite the fact that the official position of the Texan state government was that man made global warming posed a threat. Again, Robertson’s name was nowhere to be found. It was later found that its address and its top officers were the same as Robertson’s company, Quintana. 

However, all this was small potatoes compared to the manufactured “scandal” that happened. In December of 2009, the Obama administration was heading to Copenhagen for its first international climate summit. In November of 2009, in the words of “an anonymous commenter on a contrarian web site” a miracle happened. The miracle was a hacker who hacked the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and stole all the emails between CRU’s climate scientists and those in the United States. The emails contained all scientists doubts and confusions over the work they shared. Taken out of context, five emails help climate change deniers to conclude that it was all a hoax. The leak was dubbed Climategate. 

Two weeks after the hacked emails were published, “one Cato scholar alone gave more than twenty media interviews trumpeting the alleged scandal.” Mayer writes, 

“The story soon spread from obviously slanted venues to the pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post, adding mainstream credence. Tim Philips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, jumped on the hacked e-mails, describing them to a gathering of conservative bloggers at the Heritage Foundation as ‘a crucial tipping point’ and adding, ‘If we win the science argument, I think it’s game, set, and match for them.’” 

According to Mayer, Michael Mann was specifically singled out because of the dangers implied by his hockey stich graph. She tells us,  

“Four words in the purloined e-mails were seized upon as evidence that he was a fraud. In describing his research, his colleagues had praised his use of a ‘trick’ that had helped him ‘hide the decline.’ Mann’s detractors leaped to the conclusion that these words proved that his research was just a ‘trick’ to fool the public and that he had deliberately hidden an actual ‘decline’ in twentieth-century temperatures in order to fake evidence of global warming.” 

“The facts, when fully understood, were very different. It was a British colleague, not Mann, who had written the ostensibly damning words, and when examined in context they were utterly mundane. The ‘trick’ referred to was just a clever technique Mann had devised in order to provide a backup data set. The ‘decline’ in question was a reference to a decline in available information from certain kinds of tree rings after 1961, which had made it hard to have a consistent set of data.” 

Mayer describes how the hacked emails rapidly spurred a witch hunt. Inhofe and other Republicans in Congress sent threatening letters to Penn State where Mann was a tenured professor. 

“Later, Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, a graduate of George Mason School of Law, would also subpoena Mann’s former employer the University of Virginia, demanding all records relating to his decade-old academic research, regardless of libertarians’ professed concerns about government intrusion. (The effects of the Mercatus Center and the Koch donor network on George Mason University’s school of law are discussed briefly in Weaponing Philanthropy.) Eventually, Virginia’s Supreme Court dismissed its own attorney general’s case ‘with prejudice,’ finding he had misread the law.” 

Also, according to Mayer, “A self-described former CIA officer contracted colleagues in Mann’s department offering a $10,000 reward to any who would provide dirt on him.” Mayer says that Mann believes that a think tank called the National Center for Public Policy Research led a campaign to get his National Science Foundation grant revoked. 

Furthermore, “… two conservative nonprofit law firms, the Southeastern Legal Foundation and the Landmark Legal Foundation, brought legal actions aimed at him. The think tank and the two law firms were funded by combinations of the same small constellation of family fortunes through their private charitable foundations. Omnipresent were Bradley, Olin, and Scaife.” (Bradley, Olin and Scaife are extensively talked about in Weaponizing Philanthropy below.) 

Mayer also describes how the Charles Koch Foundation piled on the scrum that Big Money had put Mann in the middle of by helping subsidize the Landmark Legal Foundation (LLF). The president of LLF was Mark Levin. Mayer writes,  

“In 2010, Americans for Prosperity hired Levin to promote it on his nationally syndicated talk radio show, thereby copying the deal that FreedomWorks had struck with Glenn Beck.” 

In brief, that deal was for Beck to insert text written by FreedomWorks into his show as though they were his own opinions. Beck earned over $1 million during the length of the deal. 

But Mayer says the especially grave attack on Mann’s livelihood was launched by the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. She writes,  

“The self-described think tank belonged to a national web of similar conservative organizations known as the State Policy Network. Much of Commonwealth’s financial support came from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, making it impossible to identify the individual backers.” 

Commonwealth is based in the home state of the Scaife family and has particularly a particularly deep connection with them. 

“Michael Gleba, the chair of Commonwealth’s board of directors, was also the president of the Sarah Scaife Foundation and treasurer of Scaife’s Carthage Foundation and trustee of both’”  

The concentrated power of Gleba meant that Commonwealth had unusually strong clout with the Pennsylvanian legislature. So, the Commonwealth waged a campaign to get Mann fired from University of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvanian Legislature held the public university’s operating monies hostage until it agreed to investigate Mann for fraud. Mayer writes, 

“’Luckily,’ Mann relates, both the Penn investigations – which the legislature required to be done a second time in greater depth – and another one by the inspector general of the National Science Foundation, essentially the highest scientific body in the United States, exonerated Mann.” 

Even though the investigations revealed nothing, they were not a failure because the news cycle generally only covers the beginning of things like these. If they do cover the end, it is buried in some small article somewhere. The result is that the general public is only aware of the headline accusations and not the eventual exoneration unless they are very motivated. Furthermore, these witch hunt investigations have a chilling effect on other scientists who to avoid problems of their own self edit the research they choose to do and/or the conclusions they draw. 

More importantly, there is a trend in how Big Money’s network of think tanks, lobbyists and “news” personalities operate can be established. In the Climate Gate scandal bits and pieces of the stolen emails were taken out of context to imply something that was not true. Those bits and pieces for trumpeted far and wide as fast as possible. The technique is to flood the media with incorrect information realizing that not everybody is going to see the rebuttals or be able to put the misinformation into the appropriate larger context.  

After that ex-president lost the 2020 popular vote, he flooded the battle ground states with lawyers and law suits hoping to overturn an election he lost by 7 million votes. The right-wing news media put videos, and copies of affidavits everywhere they could claiming fraud. Social media groups, as you can imagine, were no different. Ordinary people looked at these things and accepted what they were told about them. What they failed to do was put the video and affidavits into the larger legal context. Assuming that the evidence presented on social media was not a forgery of some kind, it was all presented to a judge in the context of a cohesive legal argument. The judge looked at everything and made a ruling. Judges in six states ruled against him 56 times in total. So, those videos, affidavits and bits and pieces from emails were nothing more than agenda setting click bait.  

Mayer tells us that regardless of all the hoopla, the cap-and-trade bill moved to the Senate, but it was already dead. She says that Lindsay Graham, a senator from South Carolina, offered to co-sponsor the bill with democrats John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, but insisted that they must act before Fox News got wind of the project. That did not happen for whatever reason, and in April of 2010 Graham backed out when Fox accused him of backing a “gas tax.” Graham was afraid of political pressure from his right flank and he got it.  

The game that Big Money has been playing is that since they started on the far-right fringe they have been pulling main stream centrist politics to their side of the spectrum. They have been able to do that because they have been working on it since the 1980s and they essentially have unlimited amounts of money to spend. Until now, moderate republicans have been forced to follow dictates because if they do not someone else, supported by Big Money, can easily be found to run against them in their next primary. However, that kind of pressure will only last until the political spectrum has moved to the point that Big Money’s libertarian views are at the center. Then either some new political force will have to arise that is even further to the right than Big Money, or there could be a counter movement away from libertarianism to a more socially conscious position further to the left.  

Marc Morano tells us the biggest governmental tool available to the right-wing. Mayer quotes him as saying, “’Gridlock is the greatest friend a global warming skeptic has, because that’s all you really want, Morano later acknowledged. ‘There’s no legislation we’re championing. We’re the negative force. We are just trying to stop stuff.’” In a recent article, Mitch McConnell admitted that there are 395 House Bills sitting in his office that he will never allow to come to a vote. He states that the reason for this is the country’s political division, and he does not want to waste time on left wing legislation. Instead, he wants to focus on things that there is bipartisan agreement on and presumably things that will protect republican congressmen and congresswomen.  

Let us think about that for a minute. It is quite obvious that McConnell’s view of government is one sided. He is correct that out country is divided; however, a major reason for that division is the far-right, fringe politics of Big Money and network of front groups and lobbyists, which McConnell is aiding. The Tea Party was a libertarian sham that stirred people up with half-truths and distortions. The climate change “debate” was not really a debate at all. It was Big Money putting up the front of public debate by spending its money, using the political influence it bought, and lying until the people of the United States changed their minds.  

As the Speaker of the Senate, McConnell has an opportunity to bring our country together by allowing conversation on all those “leftists issues.” By keeping House Bills off the docket in the Senate, McConnell is hoarding power for the Republicans. The world’s foremost deliberative body is not deliberating. It is playing childish power games that make the corporate libertarian donor class happy.  

The Network – Political and Issue spending (501c4s and 501c6s) (Source Federal form 990 filings 2009-2013 ) 

American Future Fund $76.8M Americans for Prosperity $51.1M   
60 Plus Association $37.7M Americans for Responsible Leadership $27.9M   
Themis $24.8M Public Notice $22.2M Generation Opportunity $15.5M  
American Commitment $12.9M Center for Shared Services $11.9M   
Concerned Women for America $11.4M Citizen Link / Evangchr4 Trust $10.3M   
Libre Initiative $7.2M Concerned Veterans for America $7.2M Americans for Tax Reform $5.3M  
Americans for Limited Government $7.1M National Rifle Association $6.6M National Association of Manufacturers $3.6M  
Americans for Job Security $4.9M Coalition to Protect Patient’s Rights $4.3M Public Engagement Group Trust $3.4M  
National Federation of Independent Businesses and Related Groups $3.1M Revere America $2.3M   
U.S. Chamber of Commerce $3M American Energy Alliance $2.6M Susan B. Anthony List $1.5M  
Institute for Liberty $1.9M U.S. Health Freedom Coalition $1.5M West Michigan Policy Forum $1.2M  
Prosper Inc. $1.3M Heritage Action for America $1.2M National Right to Work Committee $1M  
Club for Growth $1.1M Citizens Awareness Project $1M National Taxpayer Union $787K Hispanic Leadership Fund $742K 
Veterans for a Strong America $937K RightChange.com II $850K Americans United for Life Action 624K State Tea Party Express $600K 
Republican Jewish Coalition $720K Ohio 2.0 $665K Coalition for American Values Action Inc.  $501K  
Americans for Jerusalem Ltd. $535K Morning in America $521K American Catholics for Religious Freedom $375K Arioch Project $320K 
Partnership for Ohio’s Future $500K Independent Women’s Voices $250K American Values Action $230K Tea Party Patriots $230K 
Benjamin Rush League $300K Freedom Vote $300k Ohio Liberty Council $210K Emergency Committee for Israel $200K 
Wisconsin Club for Growth $225K Citizen Media $156K Fair Arizona Independent Redistrict $150K Common Sense Issues Inc. $135K 
All Votes Matter $180K Citizens Against Government Waste $170K GOPAC Education Fund $121K American Principles in Action $100K 
Coalition to Reduce Spending $100K Protect Your Vote Inc. $100K   

The Network: Think Tanks, Academia, Policy (501c3s) (Source Federal form 990 filings, 2009-2013) 

George Mason University $28.9M Institute for Humane Studies $15.3M    
Charles Koch Institute $2.8M Donors Trust $2.1M Heritage Foundation $2M   
Florida State University $1.6M American Enterprise Insititute $1.6M Bill of Rights Institute $1.6M   
Federalist Society $1.2M Manhattan Institute $1M Clemson University $1M   
University of Arizona $961K West Virginia University $873K Liberty Source $770K   
Utah State University $815K Troy University $804K    
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) $671k Jack Miller Center $752K Foundation for Individual Rights in Education $580K   
Americans for Prosperity Foundation $627K Fraser Institute $590K Independent Women’s Forum $509K   
Young Entrepreneurs of Kansas $566K Florida Southern College $400K    
Suffolk University $482K Reason Foundation $421K Southern Methodist University $393K   
Market Based Management Institute $412K University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill $331K    
Brown University $301K Washington Legal Foundation $350 Cato Institute $257K   
American Council for Captial formation $325K Pacifica Research Institute $300K Northwestern University School of Law $205K Texas Public Policy Foundation $235K  
Texas A&M University $253K Acton Institute $288K George Washington University $202K   
Catholic University $215K Fund for American Studies $202K Association for Private Enterprise Education $172K   
College of Charleston $190K George C. Marshall Institute $185K Ohio State University $167K Tax Foundation $152K  
Baylor University $171K New York University $168K Indiana University $132K Ayn Rand Institute $125K National Center for Policy Analysis $120K 
Hilldale College $143K Grove City College $140K Loyola University, New Orleans $109K Texas Tech University  $109K Oklahoma State University $105K 
Center for Independent Thought   $115K Laffer Center for Global Economic Growth   $100K Philanthropy Roundtable $100K   
Brooklyn Law School $100K Council for National Policy $100K Florida Gulf Coast University $100K   

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_stick_graph

https://stephenstewart.ca/images/InstitutionalizingDelay.pdf Robert Brulle’s funding study 

https://point434213800.wordpress.com/2020/10/29/dark-money-weaponizing-philanthropy-the-war-of-ideas-1970-2008-complete/

https://environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2020/6/29/on-behalf-of-environmentalists-i-apologize-for-the-climate-scare

https://www.cbo.gov/publication/24918 CBO’s report on the cost of clean energy for the US populous dated six days before a cap and trade bill passed the House.  

https://www.charitynavigator.org/ein/510198509

https://theconversation.com/wheres-the-proof-in-science-there-is-none-30570

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_conspiracy_theory#Key_claims

Dark Money: Secret Sponsors and covert operations 2009-2010: The Tea Party and Health Care

Based on: Dark Money by Jane Mayer

published: 11/11/2020

edited: 11/18/2020

As a reminder, or, in case the reader has not read about the weaponizing of philanthropy, I want to put down the highlights before we get started. The first think is the definition of the phrase Big Money. I have defined the term to mean he billionaires and millionaires who own private fortunes, and spend their money manipulating US politics through an ever growing series of private foundations, front groups, and networks of front groups with the goal of protecting their businesses from social responsibility. 

Big Money has considerable influence over our political system and Congress because of the money they have spent since the 1980s directed at changing people’s minds. The first step was taking advantage of existing tax law to establish private foundations. Big Money used these foundations to establish think tanks, which were directed to produce research, op-eds, papers, etc. that supported Big Money’s philosophy and political goals.  

Big Money’s philosophy, at any other time, would be relegated to the far-right fringe. That is where it was, and that is where it has always been until now. However, by establishing privately funded research centers attached to public and private universities, Big Money has been able to inject their point of view into main stream education pushing the US further to the right under the cover of a presumably objective, educational entity. Also, these beachheads have an affect on the school they are attached to as the far-right philosophy espoused there is spread by word of mouth. Another way they’ve covertly influenced US education is by sponsoring academic programs that teach their philosophy under false pretenses. The example that Mayer gives is the Law and Economics program that pushed the idea that legal decisions should also include economic impact, which for example, in a case involving worker’s rights would mitigate the decision in favor of the corporation. 

Furthermore, Big Money used their foundations to sponsor Students and professors. Private foundations offer fellowships to students who are willing to study Law and Economics taking advantage of their poverty, or greed, to teach them far-right points of view without telling them what is happening. The fellowships given to professors were so that they could write books which were politically useful. These books did not have to go through academic peer review, and so many were criticized after the fact for shoddy research and/or incorrect conclusions.  

Big Money’s agenda is libertarianism turned to self-serving uses. They insist that the federal government should not be involved in the market place as that interferes with their personal liberty by which they mean profits. They insist on reducing the number and effectiveness of regulations that protect the populous of the United States because, again, those protections interfere with their personal liberty by which they mean profits. Furthermore, they insist on reducing taxes because they reduce profits. The end result of these three things is that Big Money can collect wealth faster. They have little or no benefit for the Middle Class or Poor.  

The take away from the first part of Mayer’s book is the that concentrated wealth is a danger to any free society. Big Money has used its wealth to push their ideas about how our country should be run. Those ideas benefit them, and ultimately create tyranny and oppression for the rest of us. We cannot fault them for their ideas. In fact, these ideas have been around for a very long time. What we can fault them on is the fact that they have so much money to spend pushing their ideas. They did not openly and honestly argue their libertarian ideal of small government. Instead, they took the duplicitous route of hiding their activism behind front groups with important sounding, but nondescript names. To summarize, Big Money’s concentrated wealth has been used to drown out the political voices of others and influence people and society to make things better for themselves

Mayer tells us that in 1984 the Koch brothers started Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), which was classified as an educational group even though it had its own charitable foundation and PAC. Because of its classification as “educational” donations to CSE could be hidden. She further states that the Center for Public Integrity labels CSE as front group, so this signals the Koch’s first move into astroturfing. The Koch brothers donated $7.9 million to CSE between 1986 and 1993.  

Front groups are not new in the United States. In fact, front groups are not new to the world. A front group is an organization that purports to represent one agenda while in reality it serves some other party or interest whose sponsorship is hidden or rarely mentioned. I suspect that they are as old as politics. Front groups were also nothing new to the Kock family. Mayer interviewed a staffer at the National Right to Work Legal Foundation, an organization that the Kochs were associated with, who said about astroturfing,  

“In reality, he said, big-business industrialists would run the group, serving as its ‘anonymous quarterbacks,’ and ‘call the turns.’ But he said they needed to sell the ‘yarn’ that the group was ‘composed of housewives, farmers, small businessmen, professional people, wage earners – not big business industrialist.’ Otherwise, he admitted, the movement was ‘almost certainly doomed to failure.’” 

(The National Right to Work Legal Foundation is an organization dedicated to eliminating workers’ unions.) The difference between front groups of the past and the front group started the Kochs was that the later was financed with corporate treasuries who have an agenda, and the former mostly by private donations of intentionally lied to, misinformed, everyday people. CSE was the beginning of Big Money’s search for “boots on the ground;” common people who could be duped into accepting their self-serving, libertarian ideas.  

Speaking of CSE, Mayer tells us,  

“Although the Kochs were the founders and early funders of the group, it soon served as a front for dozens of the country’s largest corporations. Its head denied that it was a rent-a-movement. But private records obtained by the Washington Post showed that a procession of large companies ranging from Exxon to Microsoft had made contributions to the organization after which it had mobilized public support for their agendas. Many of the companies were embroiled in fights against the government. Microsoft, for instance, was trying to stave off an antitrust suit. It reportedly made a contribution to the foundation set up by Citizens for a Sound Economy that was aimed at reducing the Justice Department’s antitrust work.” 

By the time Clinton was elected in 1993, CSE had become the prototype for all kinds of the corporate backed opposition campaigns that would proliferate after President Obama was elected.  

The group itself did not last. Mayer tells us,  

“But at the end of 2003, internal rivalries caused Citizens for a Sound Economy to split apart. ‘The split was about control.’ recalled Dick Armey, the former Republican House majority leader from Texas who chaired the organization after leaving Congress. ‘I never totally understood it, and I’m not sure I understand it now.’ He believed the Kochs wanted to use the group ‘to push their business interests; they wanted CSE to lobby on those issues,’ he said. Others have suggested it was Armey who was pushing the interests of his law firm’s clients, a charge Armey denies. There was another factor, too, behind the split, Armey suggested. ‘I saw it as a power grab by Richard Fink. He was trying to get a greater place in the sun to maintain his standing and his good living with the Koch family.” After leaving CSE, Armey went on to start another libertarian, free-market group called FreedomWorks. In case any has forgotten, Dick Armey spent 18 years in Congress and was reportedly paid $75,000 a year as a lobbyist at the law firm DLA Piper, which represented corporate clients such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, the pharmaceutical giant. 

The other two leaders of CSE, David Koch and Richard Fink, created a new non-profit, advocacy group called Americans for Prosperity (AfP) based on the salvaged remains of CSE. Like CSE, AfP has been accused by critics of using the guise of nonprofit status to work behind a screen of anonymity on behave of the Kochs’ corporate agenda. Mayer tells us,  

“One wing of the new organization was the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, whose board members included both David Koch and Richard Fink. The foundation was a 501(c)(3) educational organization, so donations to it could be written off as tax-deductible, charitable gifts. But while it could ‘educate’ the public, it could not participate in electoral politics. The other division was an advocacy organization called Americans for Prosperity. Under the tax code, it was a 501(c)(4) ‘social welfare’ group, which meant that it could participate in electoral politics so long as this was not its ‘primary’ activity. Donations to this side of the organization could also be made in secret but were not tax deductible.” 

Americans for Prosperity was run by Tim Phillips who had worked with the former head of the Christian Coalition and was regarded as the Religious Right’s savviest political operative.  

Tea Party  

Conventional wisdom holds that the Tea Party was a spontaneous reaction to President Obama’s election that was apparently triggered by an unplanned outburst on live television by Rick Santelli. Mayer puts the Tea Party in context this way,  

“Pundits, opponents, and disillusioned supporters would blame President Obama for squandering the promise of his administration. Certainly, he and his administration made their share of mistakes. But it is hard to think of another president who had to face the kind of guerrilla warfare waged against him almost as soon as he took office. A small number of people with massive resources orchestrated, manipulated, and exploited the economic unrest for their own purposes. They used tax-deductible donations to fund a movement to slash taxes on the rich and cut regulations on their own businesses. While they paid focus groups and seasoned operatives to frame these self-serving policies as matters of dire public interest, they hid their roles behind laws meant to protect the anonymity of philanthropists, leaving more folksy figures like Santelli to carry the message.” 

According to Mayer, the story of the spontaneous appearance of the Tea Party is not wrong, but it is not completely correct either. In short, there were people who spontaneous joined the Tea Party because of what they saw on television or read in the newspapers. However, without the already existing infrastructure of well financed front groups the spontaneous joiners would not have had anything to join, and most likely their outrage would have fizzled out.  

Mayer also points out that reactionary forces, such as the Tea Party, have attacked virtually every democratic president since FDR. She gives the examples of the Liberty League and the John Birch Society, which were right-wing movements who portrayed US presidents as traitors, usurpers, and threats to the Constitution. This kind of group always has a racial tinge, which is not to say that is acceptable. It is merely to be expected.  

Mayer then describes the makeup of the Tea Party. She says the Tea Party was not nonpartisan because three-quarters of its members identified as Republican. The remaining quarter thought that the others were not Republican enough. Mayer then paraphrases a book written by a Harvard political scientist and a student,  

“Harvard political scientist Theda Skocpol and the Ph.D. student Vanessa Williamson observed in their 2012 book, The Tea Party and the remaking of Remaking of Republican Conservatism, the Tea Party movement was a ‘mass rebellion … funded by corporate billionaires, like the Koch brothers, led by over-the-hill former GOP kingpins like Dick Armey, and ceaselessly promoted by millionaire media celebrities like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.” 

The Tea Party was the first time that Big Money was able to attract enough people to their front groups that their efforts became visible. Mayer tells us,  

“As Bruce Bartlett, the economist, put it, ‘The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There weren’t any actual people, like voters, who gave a crap about it. So, the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create an actual movement.’ With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, ‘everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there – people who can provide real ideological power.’ The Kochs, he said, immediately began ‘trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.” 

Mayer point out that the Tea Party was decades in the making. First there was Charles Koch’s blueprint for a libertarian revolution in the late 70s. Then there was Richard Fink’s Structure of Social Change in the 80s. By the 90s Big Money funded advocacy groups are pushing the anti-tax theme. The symbolism of the American Revolution Tea Party was not new in 2009 either. Mayer briefly describes a failed Tea Party reenactment that was staged by CSE in 1991. CSE tried again in 1992, according to Mayer, but that protest failed as well when the funding for the event was discovered to be tobacco companies. Mayer says that AfP attempted to stage a tea party like protest as well in Texas. It flopped like the others. The point here is that the Koch brothers, and their followers, had used the symbolism of the tea party for almost 20 years, but it was not until 2009 that they were able to attract enough attention for the effort to bear fruit. They spent those 20 years funding think tanks, academic programs in universities, influencing media figures and judges, and sponsoring professor to write books all of which pushed their free-market, reduced protections for the people of the United States, and anti-tax ideology. From what we know so far, the Tea Party was not a spontaneous, popular rebellion, but rather a sustained, corporate sponsored effort covering 20 years that finally garnered a spontaneous response.  

Mayer describes the Tea Party and its aftermath as a new kind of permanent campaign waged by “people whose wealth gave them the ability to fund their own private field operations with which they could undermine the outcome of elections.” She says, that this was done with “outside money.” For example, a group not associated with the campaign runs an anti-tax ad that does not endorse any candidate. The information given benefits the anti-tax candidate, but does not come directly from them. That is money spent by individuals and groups outside of the campaigns themselves, much of it tax deductible and/or hidden from the public view. This kind of politics exploded during the Obama years. 

Mayer believes that one of the lessons learned by “conservatives” from the 2008 election was that they had not spent enough money. She writes,  

“The lesson learned, as one donor, the late Texas Billionaire Harold Simmons, put it, was the next time they needed to spend even more. Simmons, who made a fortune in leveraged buyouts, had put almost $3 million into a group running television ads trying to tie Obama to the 1960s radical Bill Ayers during the 2008 campaign. ‘If we had run more ads, we could have killed Obama,” he lamented.” 

This is a common ploy of the right-wing, to associate an opponent with something evil in the distant past. Simmon’s claim that President Obama agreed with Bill Ayers’ politics in the 1960s depends on people not being able to put Bill Ayers in any kind of historical context. Simmons ads took advantage of the fact that President Obama and Bill Ayers attended the same church. The logic goes that since they attended the same church, they must be friendly with each other. Since they are friendly with each other, President Obama must agree with Bill Ayers’ radical past. This is the kind of self-serving logic that comes flying out of the right-wing of our country like popcorn cooked without a lid. The claim falls apart when you realize that after Ayers left Weather Underground, and put his legal troubles behind him, he devoted himself to teaching and studying education. He has been published and is regarded as a respected member of his field. It also falls apart when you remind yourself that forgiveness is one of humanity’s best features. In fact, there are a lot of self-professed Christians who seem to have forgotten the existence of forgiveness. The accusation was made in 2007 and 2008. Ayers radical past was in the 60s, almost 50 years before. Surely after 50 years the past can be forgotten. It further falls apart when you realize that human being who disagree with each other are duty bound be coexist and be civil to each other by virtue of their shared humanity. So even if President Obama vehemently disagreed with Ayres’ radical past that was no reason, they could not attend the same church amicably. History and common sense are our saviors in this instance and all other instances like it.  

When President Obama took office, the country was in the midst of the Great Recession, which began during Bush the Younger’s administration. Obama’s mind set was expressed in his 2004 Keynote address to the Democratic National Convention, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America.”  

There would be no 100-day honeymoon from the Republican Party. Mayer writes,  

“Forty-eight hours after Obama was sworn in, Americans for Prosperity started attacking his first major piece of legislation, a massive $800 billion Keynesian-inspired boost in public spending and tax cuts meant to stimulate the economy, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Koch’s advocacy group began organizing “Porkulus” rallies. The term was coined by Rush Limbaugh. It’s reasonable to assume that the Kochs [themselves] were too busy to follow such minutiae, but a former member of [the Koch’s] inner circle asserts that Americans for Prosperity did ‘nothing more and nothing less than they wanted it to do.’ Poorly attended at first, the “Porkulus” rallies became dress rehearsals for the Tea Party.” 

Mayer says, AfP also launched a “No Stimulus” effort that sponsored anti-Obama media events, hosted a web site, and aired television ads. The star was the ideologue Jim DeMint, the South Carolina senator, we met in part 1 of Weaponizing Philanthropy. The overall message of Big Money’s efforts, Mayer tells us, was that we cannot spend our way to prosperity.  

Mayer describes the philosophical roots of Big Money’s attack on President Obama like this,  

“The attacks reflected Charles Koch’s revisionist belief that government interference in the economy was what had caused the last Great Depression. “Bankers, brokers, and businessmen,” he argued, had been falsely blamed. The true culprits were Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt, both of whom he regarded as dangerous liberals. In his view, the economic policies of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge – the latter had famously declared, “The chief business of the American people is business” — had been unfairly maligned. Charles argued that the New Deal only “prolonged and deepened the decline.” 

It should be remembered that the ultra-wealthy during the Great Depression only had to cut back on their life style a bit and otherwise made it through unscathed. So, Koch’s point of view here is that someone who is ultra-wealthy and resents having to behave in a way that benefits the society he supposedly lives in. 

Mayer tells us that the Koch funded think tanks, and their allied network of donors, such as the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, began cranking out research papers, press releases and op-ed columns opposing President Obama’s stimulus package. Lest we think that the Hoover Institute is impartial, Mayer points out that 6 officials there had attended the Koch’s annual donor seminars. As you would expect, much of the research involved in fighting President Obama was later challenged by less biased experts. As an example, Mayer tell us, 

“The Mercatus Center (The Koch owned and operated beachhead mentioned in part 3 of Weaponizing Philanthropy) at George Mason University, for instance, released a report claiming that stimulus funds were directed disproportionately at Democratic districts. Eventually, the author was forced to correct the report but not before Rush Limbaugh, citing the paper, had labeled Obama’s program “a slush fund” and Fox News and other conservative outlets had echoed the sentiment.” 

At the time, Limbaugh claimed to have 20 million listeners.  

The Cato Institute, founded by Charles Koch and chaired by David Koch, placed full page ads in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Mayer writes,  

“The ad directly challenged Obama’s credibility. It quoted Obama saying, ‘There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help jump start the economy.’ In large, boldface letters, the ad copy retorted, ‘With all due respect, Mr. President, that is not true.’ The statement was signed by 203 individuals, many of whose careers had been subsidized by the largesse of the Kochs, the Bradley Foundation, the John. M. Olin Foundation, and other right-wing family fortunes.”  

The everyday person with children to raise and one or two jobs might have seen that ad and been impressed by the long list of names, and said to themselves that there must be something to this. Little did they know that to understand the full context of that ad, they would have to do indepth research into all of 203 signatories to find the truth. That truth being that they all worked for organizations whose only goal was to force the country into libertarian policies which would benefit the bottom line of their billionaire, and millionaire donors. It was not really a discussion about the nature of government, or the future of the country because the people behind those in the ad were unknown. What was also unknown was just how much money they had spent getting their way.  

There were also paid advocates on national television. Mayer mentions two. The first is Phil Kerpen, the vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity, was a contributor to the Fox News Web site. The second is Walter Williams, was another officer at Americans for Prosperity, and further, he was the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, was frequent guest host on Limbaugh’s radio show. 

Again, the everyday person is taken advantage of because they are unaware of the totality of effort against President Obama and his stimulus package in 2008. When you do not know all about what is going on, it is easy to be swayed. Day after day, you see and hear bits and pieces which say this is a bad idea and he is a bad president. There’s web page shared in Facebook. There’s part of a report you hear on cable news while you cook dinner, or part of a conversation you hear on talk radio while driving to work. What is not readily apparent is that all those bits and pieces have been paid for by ultra-wealthy libertarians to covertly manipulate the people of the United States into a philosophy that favors them. 

Big Money libertarians, and their poorer followers and supporters, will argue they have every right to express their point of view, which is true. However, what they do not have is a right to a coordinated, media takeover that drowns out all other voices. Their next argument will be that liberals are free to do the same things they are doing, and that liberal complaints are rooted in the fact that they are angry at being beaten. Ultimately, that is exactly what will happen. In order to “stay relevant” liberal politicians, their supporters and donors will have to do exactly the same thing. The tragic effect of this will be pushing the United States deeper and deeper into libertarianism, which is what Big Money wants in the first place. Furthermore, if the Democratic Party was to sink further into the winner take all attitude used by the Republican Party, they will be forcing the United States farther away from is democratic ideals of tolerance and institutional forbearance. We are facing the death of our democracy because, in part, of the radical policies being forced on us by the concentrated wealth of Big Money.  

The general perception after President Obama’s election was that the Republicans in Congress would have no choice but to negotiate since the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. Mayer writes,  

“Even before the new congressional session began, Eric Cantor, a lawyer from Richmond Virginia, who was about to become the new minority whip in the House, told a handful of trusted allies in a private planning meeting in his Washington condo, ‘We’re not here to cut deal and get crumbs and stay in the minority for another forty years.’” 

Instead, Mayer says, Cantor proposed that Republicans needed to unite in order to deny President Obama a single bipartisan victory. 

In January of 2009, House Republicans had their first official meeting. Texas congressman Pete Sessions, the new leader of the Republican House campaign committee, suggested that Republicans in Congress should imitate the Taliban and wage asymmetric war to get what they want. Mayer quotes him,  

“The country might be in an economic crisis, but governing, he told his colleagues, was not the reason they had been elected. As he flashed through a slide presentation at the Annapolis Inn, he asked his colleagues, ‘If the purpose of the Majority is to govern … What is our purpose?’ His answer was simple: ‘The purpose of the Minority is to become the Majority.” That one goal, he said was ‘the entire Conferences’ mission.’” 

The emphasis is mine not Mayer’s or Session’s. What Sessions was proposing, and what was carried out, is the same obstructionist politics that the GOP has relied on since Gingrich in 1994. The general idea is you tie everything up so that nothing can get done. The populous sees the majority party unable to govern and votes in the minority hoping for better government. Instead, what they get is a new majority party that is more focused on staying in power than on governing the country; a sure recipe for tyranny and oppression as we have seen. Furthermore, Sessions’ point of view is the antithesis of that of our founding fathers, which was that the job of the minority was to govern along with the majority and hopefully prevent mistakes from being made. 

The group that Cantor was speaking to included Kevin McCarthy and called itself the Young Guns. Their work in Congress earned the Republican Party the nickname of the Party of No. The Young Guns became powerful enough that John Boehner, the new minority leader, realized that he had to give in to them if he was going to keep his job. 

The single-minded quest for power has been the death of every democracy that has ever been inflicted with it because that is not how democracies function. Democracies survive in free societies; that is societies where as many political voices as possible are allowed to participate and win concessions. Politics at its best is about keeping the peace between groups with differing ideas about how things should be. Politics conducted as warfare, seeking any and every advantage no matter how small, is the exact opposite of what is needed to keep a free society and its democracy alive. 

What Mayer has shown us is a situation where political power has shifted from traditional parties to outside money, much of which came from donors who were more extreme than the party or the electorate in general. That meant that moderate republicans had to fear primary challenges and internal coups from their right flank. Mayer writes,  

“Steve LaTourette, a longtime Republican moderate congressman from Ohio who was a close friend of Boehner’s, explained, ‘In the past, it was rare that someone would run against an incumbent in their own party. But the money that these outside groups have is what gives people liquid courage to run against an incumbent.’ He described the outside donors as ‘a bunch of rich people who you can count on maybe two hands who have an inordinate impact. … Once they were able to infuse massive amounts of money, they got a disproportionate amount of influence. It’s not one man one vote anymore,’ he said with a sigh. ‘It’s all about the money. It’s not a function of anything else.’” 

Eventually, LaTourette became frustrated with Congress and left. Mayer quotes him, 

“I understood it was a contact sport, but whether it was transportation or student loans, there were things you’d do without thinking. Now you can’t get anything done. Some people don’t want the government to do anything.” 

He left and started a Super PAC called Defending Main Street, which worked against the Tea Party influence in his own party. 

It became obvious to Democratic congressmen and congresswomen that this session was going to be different than others. Mayer quotes David Obey, the Democratic Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, “What they said right from the get-go was that it didn’t matter what the hell you do, we ain’t going to help you. We’re going to stand on the sidelines and bitch.” 

If you have decided on conducting obstructionist politics, the populous cannot know otherwise they will blame you for their government’s inaction. So, you have to lie. Democrats were painted as too partisan, too arrogant, too intolerant and too overbearing. 

On January 27, President Obama climbed into his limousine for a meeting with congressional Republicans. The fact that there were to be no Democrats in the room made this meeting very unusual. President Obama was fulfilling his campaign promise to put aside partisanship. Mayer tells us that he arrived with a stimulus proposal that everyone believed was tailored to Republicans. It focused more on cutting taxes than on public spending. In fact, many of his advisors thought that there was not enough public spending to sufficiently jump start the economy. Mayer describes the meeting as a demeaning disaster because before he arrived it was discovered that Republican leadership was already telling Republicans to vote no, so President Obama was doomed to make a speech to a room of politicians whose minds were firmly closed. 

Mayer points out that five years after the Recovery Act as signed there was a survey of leading American economists taken by the Initiative on Global Markets, a project run by the University of Chicago. The economist, chosen based on ideological diversity and standing in the field, nearly unanimously agreed that the Recovery Act had achieved its goal of reducing unemployment even though undercut by Republicans. Mayer writes,  

“The free-market orthodoxy that dominated the Republican Party in Washington had completely veered from rational professional expertise, yet the extremists nearly prevailed. As it was, Obama’s opponents forced the administration to adopt a smaller stimulus package than many economists though necessary, undercutting the recovery. One month into his presidency, extreme opponents, fueled by outside money, had already wounded Obama.” 

The next day President Obama signed a $75 billion homeowner rescue plan and Santelli delivered his rant.  

According to Mayer, Eric Odom, of the Sam Adams Alliance, formed The National Tea Party Coalition, which included Dick Armey’s group FreedomWorks, and the Koch’s group, AfP. Americans for Prosperity registered the web site TaxPayerTeaParty.com and used its network to begin planning rallies across the country. Further, Mayer tells us that Odom activated his DontGo twitter list of 10,000 hard-core, conservative republicans.  

DontGo was a twitter movement among republican leadership during August of 2008. He sent out twitter messages demanding that Democrats not leave for recess until oil drilling legislation was approved.  

The date set for the first national Tea Party protest was February 27. There were more than a dozen protests that day, and organizers claimed 30,000 participants. There was a second series of protests on April 15, and organizers claimed there was a tenfold increase in participation as 300,000 supposedly attended.  

Mayer is correct in saying that these were hardly spontaneous protests because as she writes, “The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and Americans for Prosperity provided speakers, talking points, press releases, transportation and other logistical support.” Furthermore, Mayer gives us the eye witness testimony of Thomas Frank the author of the book What’s the Matter with Kansas. He visited a Tea Party protest in Lafayette Square across the street from the White House in February 2009. Mayer writes,  

“’It was very much a put-up job’ he concluded. ‘All the usual suspects were there, like FreedomWorks, Joe the Plumber, and The American Spectator magazine. There were also some people who had Revolutionary War costumes and ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flags, actual activists, and a few ordinary people,’ he said. ‘But it was very well organized by the conservative groups. Back then, it was really obvious that it was put on, and they’d set it up. But then it caught on.’ Frank argues that ‘the Tea Party wasn’t subverted,’ as some have suggested. ‘It was born subverted.’ Still, he said, ‘it’s a major accomplishment for sponsors like the Kochs that they’ve turned corporate self-interest into a movement among people on the streets.’” 

Next Mayer gives us the account of Peggy Venable, “a spunky veteran of the Reagan administration who had been on [the Kochs] payroll since 1994.” Mayer writes,  

“’I was a member of the Tea Party before it was cool!’ [Venable] said during a conversation at a Koch sponsored political event called Defending the American Dream, in Austin. As the Tea Party movement took off, she described how Americans for Prosperity had helped to ‘educate’ the activists on policy details. She said they had given the supporters what she called ‘next-step training’ after their rallies so that their political energy could be channeled ‘more effectively.’ The organization also supplied the angry protesters with lists of elected officials to target. Venable, who spoke without first checking with the Kochs’ public relations representatives, happily said of the brothers, ‘They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do’ She added, ‘We love what the Tea Parties are doing, because that’s how we’re going to take back America!’” 

Mayer further tells us that Venable honored several Tea Pary “citizen leaders’ at one of the Kochs’ donor summits. At that same event, according to Mayer, “The Texas branch of Americans for Prosperity gave its Blogger of the Year Award to a young woman named Sibyl West. Writing on her web site, West described Obama as the ‘cokehead in chief’ and speculated that the president was exhibiting symptoms of ‘demonic possession (aka schizophrenia, etc.).’” 

The sad truth about human nature is that if you are going to stir up outrage and bring people to your cause, assuming your cause is not just, you are going to have to lie. Common sense should tell anyone that President Obama was not a cokehead, but the usefulness of abusive language lies in the fact that uninformed, intellectually lazy people will probably believe it. Then, they will pass along what they think they have learned to other uninformed, intellectually lazy people. After all, gossip in the prime reason for social media.  

Mayer tells us FreedomWorks was a major supporter of the Tea Party in the early days collecting donations from companies like Phillip Morris and from billionaires like Richard Mellon Scaife who has been written about in previous blogs. Mayer quotes Armey, “I’d argue that when the Tea Party took off, FreedomWorks had as much to do with making it an effective movement as anyone.” Mayer correctly points out that this admission by Armey invalidates any claim the Tea Party had to spontaneity. What we have here is a symbiotic relationship. Big Money spent billions over decades laying the ground work for the Tea Party. The Tea Party gave Big Money flesh-and-blood people in large enough numbers that Big Money’s “grassroot movement” did not die out like the Occupy Movement did.  

According to Mayer, FreedomWorks later revealed that it had some hired help. She writes,  

“The tax-exempt organization quietly cemented a deal with Glenn Beck, the incendiary, right-wing Fox News television host who at the time was a Tea Party superstar. For an annual payment that eventually topped $1 million, Beck read ‘embedded content’ written by the FreedomWorks staff. They told him what to say on air, and he blended it the promotional material seamlessly into his monologue, making it sound as if it [was] his own opinion. The arrangement was described on FreedomWorks tax disclosures as ‘advertising services.’” 

Armey commented on the deal, and is quoted by Mayer,  

“’We thought it would be a useful tool if it was done in moderation (Apparently, it’s okay to do unethical things if don’t do them too much.), but then they started doing it by leaps and bounds,’ Armey recalled about the arrangement. ‘They were keeping it secret from their activists and supporters,’ he alleged. ‘They were creating an illusion they were so important [that] this icon, this hero of the movement, was bragging about them. Instead of earning the media, there were paying for it.’” 

Yet one more reason to disbelieve and ignore Fox News.  

Mayer points out that a further aid to the rise of the Tea Party was President Obama’s natural aversion to confrontation and extreme rhetoric. Franklin Roosevelt came right out and blamed the Great Depression on the money changers of Wall Street. President Obama’s utterances were much more muted when facing the Great Recession of 2008. Mayer says, many critics believed that President Obama gave up the opportunity to lead the nation and allowed the voices of the far right-wing to take charge. 

An embolden right-wing brought out a lot of anti-Obama messaging at Tea Party protests some of which was racist. Mayer described placards that read, “Impeach Now!” and “Obama Bin Lyin.” She says, his face was photoshopped to make him look like the Joker from Batman movies. “…his skin turned chalk white, his mouth stretched almost to his ears, and his eye sockets blackened, with a zombielike, dead gaze, over the word “Socialism.” Mayer writes,  

“One protester at a February 27 rally, who said he was with the group, carried a sign calling Congress slave owners and taxpayers “the Nigger.” Obama’s image was also photoshopped to look like a primitive African witch doctor, with a bone stuck through his nose.” 

Big Money elites professed to be uncomfortable about the racism, but they did nothing to stop it and in fact encouraged it by adopting it with more eloquent words. Mayer writes,  

“Fink, the Kochs’ political lieutenant, professed to be discomfited by the racism. But David Koch echoed the specious claims that Obama was somehow African in his outlook, even though he was born in America, abandoned by his Keyan father as a toddler, raised mainly in Hawaii by his American mother, and had never set foot on the African continent until he was an adult. In a revealing later interview with the conservative pundit Matthew Continetti, David nonetheless disparaged Obama as ‘the most radical president we’ve ever had as a nation’ and opined that the president’s radicalism derived from his African heritage. ‘His father was a hard-core economic socialist in Kenya,’ he said. ‘Obama didn’t really interact with his father face-to-face very much, but was apparently from what I read a great admirer of his father’s points of view. So, he had sort of antibusiness, anti-free enterprise influences affecting him almost all of his life. It just shows you what a person with a silver tongue can achieve.’” 

Center to Protect Patient’s Rights and Health Care   

Mayer tells us that the Center to Protect Patient’s Rights (CPPR) was incorporated in Maryland in 2009. Its physical existence was merely a locked, metal mailbox, number 72465 in Phoenix Arizona. Sean Noble was the executive director, and he kept his organization shrouded in secrecy. He was asked in 2013 during a legal deposition who hired him, and he refused to answer the question citing confidentiality agreements. ProPublica published an article in 2014 called, The Dark Money Man: How Sean Noble Moved the Kochs’ Cash into Politics and Made Millions. In the article, the author writes,  

“In the 2013 deposition, Noble wouldn’t even say who hired him because of confidentiality agreements. ‘I can’t tell you who I do work for,’ he responded to a lawyer’s question. ‘Wait a minute,’ the lawyer said. ‘I asked how your salary got set, and you’re telling me that you had a discussion with some people in 2009 and you’re refusing to tell me who?’ ‘I am,’ Noble replied.” 

The Center to Protect Patient’s Rights was the result of a collaboration between Sean Noble and Randy Kendrick. Randy Kendrick was married to Earl Kendrick who had made millions from a company called Datatel that provided computer software to colleges and universities. Then Earl bought a bank and the MLB Arizona Diamondbacks. They were both hard-core economic and social conservatives.  

Mayer points out that it was Randy who brought the idea that Big Money should be involved in healthcare to one of the Kochs’ donor summits. Until 2009, Charles Koch and his followers, who were looking out for their industrial and financial fortunes had assumed the healthcare industry would look out for itself. After she brought up the question, Big Money realized that Obama had made deals with all the big health insurance companies to get their participation in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare, ACA).  

It was this fact that was exaggerated in the specious claim that the ACA was a government takeover of healthcare. Mayer writes,  

“But most experts found the pitch patently misleading because the Obama administration was proposing that Americans buy private health insurance from for-profit companies, not the government. In fact, progressives were incensed that rather than backing a ‘public option’ for those who preferred a government insurance program, the Obama plan included a government mandate that individuals purchase health-care coverage, a conservative idea hatched by the Heritage Foundation to stave off nationalized health care.” 

As we all know for history, the Obamacare as a government takeover was an extremely successful pitch during the 2010 mid-term elections.  

Mayer says that Kendrick “had read the former Democratic senator Tom Daschel’s 2008 book, Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis” which advocated for universal health care.” It seems that to Kendrick the danger lay in that Since Daschel was expected to be part of Obama’s cabinet his book implied that Obama would try to implement universal healthcare, which would kill corporate profits, hurt patients, and be the biggest “socialist” takeover in her lifetime. Mayer writes,  

“Kendrick spoke with passion. Her interests in the issue were both political and personal. She argued that the choice of private health care had saved her from spending the rest of her life confined to a wheelchair after a leg injury. She had initially been told that because she suffered from a rare disorder, she couldn’t risk surgery. But a specialist at the renowned Cleveland Clinic had found a successful treatment. She survived the surgery and was now an active mother of teenage twins. ‘Randy was convinced that if America had government health care like Canada or Great Britain, she would be dead,’ a friend who asked not to be identified confided.” 

Of course, the ACA has never been anything like what Kendrick, or anybody else who feared socialist takeover, imagined. 

It appears, like too many of us, Kendrick was either exaggerating for effect or lying. Mayer writes,  

“…Donald Jacobsen, professor of molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, who cared for Kendrick, recalled her as a generous donor but dismissed as nonsense her argument that Obama’s health-care plan ever threatened treatment of the kind that she received. ‘I can assure you that ‘Obamacare’ did not diminish our research efforts in any way,’ he said. ‘However, the sequestration efforts of the right-wing conservatives and their Tea Party colleagues have hampered progress in medical research. The National Institute of Health is suffering greatly, and it is very difficult for all investigators to obtain funding. You can’t blame the Affordable Care Act, but you certainly can blame the Republicans.’” 

By “sequestration efforts”, Jacobsen is referring to the right-wing’s habit for denying funding to any and all parts of the federal government by demanding spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Remember that their desire is a small government. Since they cannot legislate the government of their dreams directly by advocating the destruction of the EPA, the IRS, or government sponsored medical research, the next best thing is to make sure those things do not have money to move forward. In the case of the IRS, sequestration has paid very large dividends in that the IRS does not have the budget to go after millionaires and billionaires who do not pay their taxes. They can only afford to go after poor and middle-class tax cheats. Small government is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?  

Mayer points out that in three months CPPR had accumulated $3 million in donations. By the end of 2009, they had collected $13 million. More than $10 million was quickly passed on to other tax-exempt groups, including Americans for Prosperity, which took the lead in attacking Obama’s health-care plan. By the end of 2010 CPPR had nearly $62 million, which had been raised through the Kochs’ donor network. 

The first sign that the money CPPR was spreading around was being used was a television commercial called Survivor from Patients United Now. Mayer writes,  

“It featured a Canadian woman named Shona Holmes who said, ‘I survived a brain tumor,’ but claimed that if she had been forced to wait for treatment from Canada’s government health service, ‘I’d be dead.’ Instead, she said, she had received lifesaving treatment in Arizona. Fact-checkers later revealed that her dramatic story was highly dubious and that in fact the reason the Canadian Health authorities hadn’t expedited her treatment was that she actually had a benign cyst on her pituitary gland.” 

What we have here is another Big Money, libertarian lie of omission. Americans for Prosperity spent $1 million airing the ad in the summer of 2009. 

Mayer tells us that Noble was not shooting in the dark. He aimed attack ads especially at the states of members of the Senate Finance Committee, which was writing the healt-care bill and whose support would be needed to vote it out of the committee. He focused on Louisiana, Nebraska, Maine, Iowa, and Montana. As always, Noble needed a “grassroot” show of force, so he hired Doug Goodyear and DCI Group, a public relations firm that made its name astroturfing for Big Tobacco back in the day. The advantage of hiring a public relations firm is that you do not have to report where the money comes from.  

DCI Group was then very familiar with the goal of spending millions to create what appears as a popular revolt against something while hiding the identity of the client. Mayer writes,  

“Or, as the memo written by Tim Hyde – one of the three founding partners of DCI Group and at the time R.J. Reynold’s director of national field operations – put it, the company needed to ‘create a movement’ that would ‘build broad coalitions around the issue cluster of freedom, choice and privacy.’ The company, Hyde wrote, ‘should proceed along two tracks.’ One was the ‘intellectual track within the DC-New York corridor,’ which could influence elite opinion with op-ed pieces, lawsuits and expert think tank studies. The other was ‘a grassroots organizational and largely local track,’ which would use front groups to simulate the appearance of popular political support.” 

By 2009, Mayer tells us, the lessons taught by Big Money through the 80s and 90s were well learned. DCI Group’s client list included ExxonMobil, the teamsters, and the military junta of Myanmar. DCI produced the “indie” film, “Al Gore’s Penguin Army,” which went viral before it was discovered that it was not an indie film at all. Rather, it was produced by a corporation to serve corporate goals.  

Mayer points out that Noble’s Center to Protect Patient’s Rights was dispensing millions of dollars to nonprofit groups fronting for DCI Group. She writes,  

“In June (2009), the Center to Protect Patient’s Rights sent $1.8 million to a confusingly similar sounding organization called the Coalition to Protect Patient’s Rights, which was set up that month in Virginia by an accountant who worked for DCI Group. The Virginia organization soon passed most of the funds on to DCI Group. Pretty soon, a former head of the American Medical Association named Donald Palmisano appeared on the national media circuit to take swipes at Obama’s health-care proposal on behalf of the newly created coalition. He admitted that donors, whom he declined to name and who were not in the medical field, and recruited him to speak for the group, which called itself a ‘doctor-led coalition.’” 

More lies from Big Money. The same DCI Group accountant’s name appeared on paperwork filed by another Washington-area nonprofit, a tiny organization calling itself the Institute for Liberty. Mayer tell us,  

“[The Institute for Liberty] soon received a $1.5 million grant from Noble’s Center to Protect Patient’s Rights. Four hundred thousand dollars of these funds were channeled back to DCI Group for ‘consulting.’ The previous year, the Institute for Liberty’s entire budget had been $52,000. Suddenly it was so awash in cash that the group’s president, Andrew Langer, told The Washington Post, ‘This year has been serendipitous for us.’ He said a donor, whom he declined to name, had earmarked the funds for a five-state advertising blitz targeting Obama’s health-care plan. Although, The Washington Post wrote about the surprisingly large ad campaign, it failed to trace the money back to its true source. On the air, the ads’ only sponsorship information was completely misleading. There was a small line that said, ‘Paid for by Keeping Small Business Healthy.’” 

The Center to Protect Patient’s Rights and DCI Group were not working alone. Mayer writes,  

“Americans for Prosperity … threw itself headlong into the fight, spinning off a group called Patients United Now, which, according to Tim Phillips, organized more than three hundred rallies against the health-care legislation. At one rally, an effigy of a Democratic congressman was hanged; at another, protesters unfurled a banner depicting corpses from Dachau, implying that Obama’s health-care plan was akin to the Nazis’ state-ordered murders.” 

Mayer further points out,  

“The Bradley Foundation also pitched in. While the tax-exempt foundation did not directly support Tea Party groups, its president, Michael Grebe, said the foundation supported ‘public education programs run by Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, both of which were very active in the Tea Party.” 

At the same time as Grebe is describing the Koch group’s activity in the Tea Party, the Kochs second in command denied any association. Mayer describes Richard Fink’s point of view,  

“’We never funded the tea party,’ Fink still maintained. ‘We met for 20 or 30 years advancing free-market ideas in universities, think tanks, and citizen groups. I am hopeful those ideas filtered down and were a part of the cause of the Tea Party taking off.’” 

At the second donor summit the Kochs held in 2009, Sean Noble had become an insider and had a contract as a Koch political consultant. Mayer paraphrases Noble,  

“The Kochs felt they needed extra help, a former insider said, because Obama’s election had sparked such vitriol on the right that they were almost overwhelmed by the number of wealthy donors eager to join them. ‘Suddenly, they were raising big money! They were in a hot spot. They were almost hyperventilating,’ he said.” 

During the summer recess, Congressmen and Senators go home and hold town hall meetings to inform people. In the summer of 2009, traditional town hall meetings held by democratic congressmen and senators seemed to explode with spontaneous acrimony. Mayer tells us,  

“But the investigative reporter Lee Fang discovered that a volunteer with FreedomWorks was circulating a memo instructing Tea Partiers on how to disrupt the meetings. Bob MacGuffie, who ran a web site called RightPrinciples.com, advised opponents of Obama’s policies to ‘pack the hall … spread out’ to make their numbers seem more significant, and to ‘rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation … to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early … to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda … stand up and shout and sit back down.’ While MacGuffie was quickly dismissed as a lone amateur, some of the outside agitation was professional, paid for by the Koch network. Noble later admitted, ‘We packed these town halls with people who were just screaming about this thing.” 

The attempts to disrupt town halls had some effects. Mayer says,  

“After a military veteran assailed the democratic congressman Brian Baird for ostensibly defiling the Constitution by supporting Obama’s universal health-care plan, Baird decided to retire from politics, citing the intolerably toxic atmosphere. In Philadelphia, Senator Arlen Specter, a moderate Republican, and the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, were drowned out by hundreds of booing detractors at an event as they tried to explain the health-care legislation. Members of Congress all over the country, in districts as far apart as Tampa Florida, and Long Island New York, found themselves ambushed by screaming citizens, some mistakenly believing the specious rumors about Obama’s plans to create government ‘death panels’ to euthanize senior citizens.” 

Mayer further writes,  

“The raucous rallies proved pivotal in eroding Obama’s agenda. Grover Norquist, the antitax activist who held a weekly meeting for conservative leaders in Washington, including representatives from Americans for Prosperity, described the summer’s pandemonium as a turning point. The Republican leadership in Congress, he said, ‘couldn’t have done it without August, when people went out on the streets. It discouraged deal makers, like Grassley’ — Republicans who might otherwise have worked constructively with Obama. Moreover, the appearance of growing public opposition to Obama affected corporate donors on K Street, the center of Washington’s lobbying industry. ‘K Street is a $3 billion weather vane,’ Norquist said, ‘When Obama was strong, the Chamber of Commerce said, ‘We can work with the Obama administration.’ But that changed when thousands of people went into the street and ‘terrorized’ congressmen.’” 

The Democrats were unaware of what was happening. Mayer quotes Jim Margolis, the democratic political consultant and adviser who created many of Obama’s 2008 campaign spots,” 

“’I thought on health care you’d get a modest amount of support from thoughtful Republicans,’ he said. ‘In March and April, Max Baucus was reaching out to Olympia Snowe and Chuck Grassley. The moderate Republicans were making some of the right sounds. But the progress was slow. Then, over the August recess, it really explodes. It would be interesting to know what the funding streams were like,’ he mused. ‘My suspicion is that the outside forces were kicking into high gear as we moved into summer.’” 

Mayer also paraphrases David Axelrod, a political consultant and the chief strategist on President Obama’s campaign, 

“Axelrod later acknowledged the he ‘wasn’t really tracking’ the right-wing money during this period and only belated came to realize that there was a set of ‘right-wing oligarchs’ that ‘found Obama threatening,’ because he ‘believes in using government to solve problems. It was the Gilded Age all over again.’” 

All the hoopla did boost memberships in far-right activist groups, but let us put that in perspective. Held at the Crystal Gateway Marriot in Arlington Virginia by David Koch. Mayer points out,  

“Overall, at its height, 5 percent of Americans approved of the John Birch Society. The Tea Pary movement, in contrast, was estimated by the New York Times to have won the support of 18 percent of the population at its zenith, but at its core, according to the researcher Devin Burghart, were some 330,000 activists who had signed up with six national organizational networks. If the estimates were correct, the actual number of hard-core Tea Party activists was not by historical standards all that large. [The John Birch Society has been estimated to have 100,000 hard-core members at its height] But the professionalism of the underground infrastructure, the growth of sympathetic and in some cases subsidized media outlets, and the concentrated money pushing the message from the fringe to the center stage were truly consequential.” 

18 percent is less than a 1/5 of the population, and 330,000 compared to 350,000,000 is 0.0009 percent. Either of this numbers are a long way from a majority.  

Mayer tells us that by the time of the Defending the American Dream Summit, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity on October 3, 2009. Obama’s poll numbers are falling, and there are no Republicans willing to work with him on the Affordable Care Act. This was seriously disappointing because by blocking his most ambitious domestic plan Republicans had undermined his greatest appeal, his promise to be a bridge builder beyond old partisan divisions.  

Furthermore, Mayer points out that Mitch McConnell is using the threat of outside money to remind republican congressmen and senators that can be easily replaced if they stray from his mandate. I have always wondered about the Republicans who come on television and criticize some piece of legislation and then vote for it. The 53 Republican senators in this Congress voted with the president 90.0% of the time. 36 out of 53 voted with the president 90.0% of the time. They would stand before the television cameras and criticize the legislation or that president, and then vote for whatever was put in front of them because behind the scenes Mitch McConnell could threaten them with Big Money’s secret donor network funding a challenger to take their place. 

The fall pundits who were writing about Obama’s greatness were writing about his ineptitude by winter. Mayer quotes David Koch, 

“’Five years ago, my brother Charles and I provided the funds to start Americans for Prosperity, and it’s beyond my wildest dreams how AFP has grown into this enormous organization.’ He went on, ‘Days like today bring to reality the vision of our board of directors when we founded this organization, five years ago.’ Rubbing his hands together somewhat awkwardly, he added, ‘We envisioned a mass movement, a state-based one, but national in scope, of hundreds of thousands of American citizens from all walks of life standing up and fighting for the economic freedoms that made our nation the most prosperous society in history … Thankfully, the stirrings from California to Virginia, and from Texas to Michigan, show that more and more of our fellow-citizens are beginning to see the same truths that we do.’” 

Let me summarize what we’ve learned so far. Charles Koch, or any other Big Money billionaire or millionaire, donates to the foundation that they started, and gets an income tax deduction for their generosity. Their foundation is only required to give 5% of its money to nonprofit charities. The rest it can spend in any way that its founder chooses. So Big Money founds a series of ever smaller front groups which solicit more donations and which direct their energies at spreading the self-serving, political interests of Big Money. They did this for about 20 years with little or no result. Then something sparked it all and the Tea Party was born supported by the libertarian donor network that was already in place. The common person sees a Tea Party rally in their town, listens to the speeches, and likes the message which has been tailored to direct them to a particular political point of view. The common person, not knowing the true context behind the rally, because they do not know where the money to support it all is coming from, is drawn in by its appeal to patriotism couched in fear and designed to stir up outrage. Once Big Money had seeded the field enough, and enough people responded, they could use their billions to attack the government on other issues as we shall see. If they are called out for their duplicitous actions, Big Money defends itself with claims about free speech, diversity of outlook, and victimization. Big Money believes itself a victim because their ideas which were relegated to the far-right fringes of politics have been ignored by a lying liberal media, an opposition party which has a conspiratorial control of the federal government, and because intellectuals have been indoctrinating everyone with a point of view that denies the validity of everything, they know to be absolutely true. Unfortunately, this is the fantasy that too many of us have accepted. The result of this overwhelming societal discrimination to Big Money is that they have to treat their workers fairly and with respect, clean up the messes made by their industrial processes, and pay higher taxes than everybody else so that there is an equality of sacrifice towards the common good of US society. 

The Network – Political and Issue spending (501c4s and 501c6s) (Source Federal form 990 filings 2009-2013) 

Americans for Prosperity $51.1M   
60 Plus Association $37.7M Americans for Responsible Leadership $27.9M   
Themis $24.8M Public Notice $22.2M Generation Opportunity $15.5M  
American Commitment $12.9M Center for Shared Services $11.9M   
Concerned Women for America $11.4M CitizenLink / Evangchr4 Trust $10.3M   
Libre Initiative $7.2M Concerned Veterans for America $7.2M Americans for Tax Reform $5.3M  
Americans for Limited Government $7.1M National Rifle Association $6.6M National Association of Manufacturers $3.6M  
Americans for Job Security $4.9M Coalition to Protect Patient’s Rights $4.3M Public Engagement Group Trust $3.4M  
National Federation of Independent Businesses and Related Groups $3.1M Revere America $2.3M   
U.S. Chamber of Commerce $3M American Energy Alliance $2.6M Susan B. Anthony List $1.5M  
Institute for Liberty $1.9M U.S. Health Freedom Coalition $1.5M West Michigan Policy Forum $1.2M  
Prosper Inc. $1.3M Heritage Action for America $1.2M National Right to Work Committee $1M  
Club for Growth $1.1M Citizens Awareness Project $1M National Taxpayer Union $787K Hispanic Leadership Fund $742K 
Veterans for a Strong America $937K RightChange.com II $850K Americans United for Life Action 624K State Tea Party Express $600K 
Republican Jewish Coalition $720K Ohio 2.0 $665K Coalition for American Values Action Inc.  $501K  
Americans for Jerusalem Ltd. $535K Morning in America $521K American Catholics for Religious Freedom $375K Arioch Project $320K 
Partnership for Ohio’s Future $500K Independent Women’s Voices $250K American Values Action $230K Tea Party Patriots $230K 
Benjamin Rush League $300K Freedom Vote $300k Ohio Liberty Council $210K Emergency Committee for Israel $200K 
Wisconsin Club for Growth $225K Citizen Media $156K Fair Arizona Independent Redistrict $150K Common Sense Issues Inc. $135K 
All Votes Matter $180K Citizens Against Government Waste $170K GOPAC Education Fund $121K American Principles in Action $100K 
Coalition to Reduce Spending $100K Protect Your Vote Inc. $100K   

The Network: Think Tanks, Academia, Policy (501c3s) (Source Federal form 990 filings, 2009-2013) 

George Mason University $28.9M Institute for Humane Studies $15.3M    
Charles Koch Institute $2.8M Donors Trust $2.1M Heritage Foundation $2M   
Florida State University $1.6M American Enterprise Insititute $1.6M Bill of Rights Institute $1.6M   
Federalist Society $1.2M Manhattan Institute $1M Clemson University $1M   
University of Arizona $961K West Virginia University $873K Liberty Source $770K   
Utah State University $815K Troy University $804K    
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) $671k Jack Miller Center $752K Foundation for Individual Rights in Education $580K   
Americans for Prosperity Foundation $627K Fraser Institute $590K Independent Women’s Forum $509K   
Young Entrepreneurs of Kansas $566K Florida Southern College $400K    
Suffolk University $482K Reason Foundation $421K Southern Methodist University $393K   
Market Based Management Institute $412K University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill $331K    
Brown University $301K Washington Legal Foundation $350 Cato Institute $257K   
American Council for Captial formation $325K Pacifica Research Institute $300K Northwestern University School of Law $205K Texas Public Policy Foundation $235K  
Texas A&M University $253K Acton Institute $288K George Washington University $202K   
Catholic University $215K Fund for American Studies $202K Association for Private Enterprise Education $172K   
College of Charleston $190K George C. Marshall Institute $185K Ohio State University $167K Tax Foundation $152K  
Baylor University $171K New York University $168K Indiana University $132K Ayn Rand Institute $125K National Center for Policy Analysis $120K 
Hilldale College $143K Grove City College $140K Loyola University, New Orleans $109K Texas Tech University  $109K Oklahoma State University $105K 
Center for Independent Thought   $115K Laffer Center for Global Economic Growth   $100K Philanthropy Roundtable $100K   
Brooklyn Law School $100K Council for National Policy $100K Florida Gulf Coast University $100K   

Dark Money: Weaponizing philanthropy: the war of ideas 1970-2008 (Complete)

Based on Dark Money by Jane Mayer

Published 10/29/202

The majority of the information here comes from Mayer’s book, Dark Money. I have marked other sources, and copied their links below. 

Let me say at the outset that this series of blogs only covers the first portion of Jane Mayer’s book, Dark Money. I have yet to read about the obstruction of the Obama years, the Tea Party or Citizens United, which are covered in the second section of the book. The third part of the book covers Big Money’s influence on Congress, the 2012 reelection of Obama, and the Republican takeover of state governments through voter suppression I intend to write about each of these sections in turn.  

This has been a difficult blog to write. In fact, I have read the material involved three times trying to get a hold of its meaning. The topic is extremely important as the corporate control of Congress and elections is a major reason the United States is in such bad shape, and a major reason that our president was elected. Mayer’s book is quite detailed, so I have left out most of the personal information about the people in the book and focused on what they did. I wanted to tell the story all in one go, but the outline came out to 26 pages, and I doubted that anyone would actually read that much. My wife suggested that I break it into parts, so that is what I have done. Part 1 covers introductory background and the libertarianism of Charles Koch and the Freedom School, which has proved to extremely influential on today’s “conservative movement” Part 2 covers think tanks and the tax setup that allows self-interested billionaires to donate money to their private foundations, receive a tax deduction for the donation, and then use the private foundation to lobby for libertarian policies that enhance their profits. Part 3 covers how self-interested billionaires established supposedly objective academic entities attached to US universities, which in reality were political lobbying groups producing third-rate scholarship to again support libertarian policies that increased profits.  

A war of ideas, at first glance, appears to be a noble endeavor; however, the war that Jane Mayer describes in her book, Dark Money, is not the imagined open, honest discussion about ideas with all sides eventually agreeing that this is right or that is ultimately wrong. The war of ideas in Mayer’s book is a clandestine war fought by the wealthiest members of US society to protect their bottom line at the expense of everything and everyone. They have purposely hidden their actions so as to prevent people from finding out their ultimate goals; reduced costs, little or no societal interference in their businesses, and increased profits. They have chosen libertarianism as the philosophical basis of their fight against our democratic society, which ironically allows them to use words like freedom and liberty to defend themselves. This of course is a dangerous game for the rest of us because libertarianism can only ultimately end in oppression as the best case, and anarchy as the worst. We all should know, concentrated wealth cannot help but to gain economic and political control resulting in social oppression through the buying of influence, bribery, and the base human emotions of ambition and selfishness. The results of allowing Big Money uncontrolled access to society are people excluded from the political process, irreparable environmental damage, and entrench social and economic inequality.  

Introduction  

Dark Money opens with a discussion of a seminar held for conservative and libertarian billionaires in 2009. The election of Barak Obama, and Democratic control of both the House and the Senate, had made a lot of people very nervous. They feared losing all they had gained under the previous Republican administrations. This seminar, organized and run by the Koch brothers, was not a new thing. They had been held every so often for decades. The first seminar had 13 people attend. The 2009 seminar was filed to capacity and beyond. The attendees of the seminar were hugely wealthy, archconservative if not completely libertarian, and willing to follow the Koch Brother’s lead. This was not, and is not, a conspiracy. Rather it was a movement of Big Money elites looking out for their interests. Charles Koch is not a ringleader. He is the guy who used his money to support the ideas of others that ultimately worked out to his advantage. Our present national woes are the result of a great many self-interested billionaires following Koch’s lead.   

Since 1980, the Mercantile Right, to use Craig Shirley’s term, have built a very large network to achieve their goals. They subsidized seemingly harmless think tanks and academic programs to influence political thought. They have spawned advocacy groups to make their arguments on the national, political stage, and hired lobbyists to push their interests in Congress. They have created a network of synthetic grassroots groups to give the impression that their political “movement” has momentum. They have financed legal groups and judicial junkets to influence judges, and built a private political machine that has taken over the Republican Party. All of this was done quietly and discreetly to prevent the US populous from finding out what they were doing, and has left an almost invisible money trail. 

Craig Shirley coined the phrase the Mercantile Right to refer those who have worked so hard for so long to change the face of the United States to their advantage. The term is easy to understand, but I feel that it is letting billionaires on the left side of the spectrum off the hook. We are all aware that for a long time there have been a group of moderate Democrats who vote like they’re Republicans; that is supporting the interests of business over everything else. Those Democrats were voting the will of their wealthy and corporate donors whose only interest is profit. In terms of business, I think we can all agree that a Republican businessman and a Democratic businessman are going to have the same political goals. So, let us use the term Big Money to describe the private and corporate donors who have gained so much influence over our government and elections.  

Years of republican governance have allowed Big Money to gain considerable economic and political power in the form of significant sway of US government regulatory and tax laws. With the election of Barak Obama, and the Democratic Party taking control of the House and the Senate, Big Money feared they would lose all that they had gained. Furthermore, the Great Recession was threatening both the US and World economies. So, you can understand why the Koch’s seminar was so widely attended in 2009. 

Mayer quotes Charles Koch as saying during this seminar, “If not us, who? If not now, when?” According to Mayer, at the time, the Koch’s “owned four thousand miles of pipelines, oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, the Georgia-Pacific lumber and paper company. … They were huge traders in commodity futures among other businesses. The company’s (Koch Industries) consistent profitability had made the two brothers the 6th and 7th wealthiest men in the world. Each was worth an estimated $14 billion in 2009.” In other words, the Kochs, and many others like them, had business concerns that spanned the globe, and fortunes that isolated them from almost all of the cares of the world.  

Few of us have any idea what the number 14 billion really means, so let us take those 14 billion dollars and turn them in to seconds. 14 billion seconds works out to 445 years. In other words, either of the Koch brothers can spend a dollar a second between now and the year 2465 before they run out of money. Jeff Bezos has $170 billion (5,367 years) at last count. Nobody has any practical need for that amount of money.  

Mayer tells us that for decades US economists had been downplaying economic inequality arguing that it was inevitable and a result of the unavoidable shifts to a more globalized economy. They claimed it would stabilize. To further complicate things, Mayer says that free market advocates argued for equality of opportunity as a way to combat economic inequality. Equality of opportunity sounds reasonable except their measure of opportunity was based on purchasing power. If you can pay for it, you are welcome to the opportunity of healthcare, education, decent housing, etc.  

According to Mayer, by 2000 the idea of stabilizing economic inequality was wearing thin, and a growing number of academics studying the intersection between politics and wealth came to regard economic inequality as destabilizing to democracy. Mayer paraphrases Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics like this: 

“He predicted that the fortunes of those with great wealth, and their inheritors, would increase at a faster rate of return than the rate at which wages would grow, creating what he called ‘patrimonial capitalism.’ This dynamic, he predicted, would widen the growing chasm between the haves and the have nots to level mimicking the aristocracies of old Europe and banana republics.” 

In many respects I think we have forgotten the lessons of the past. In January of 2017, Luke Mayville of the Philadelphia Inquirer published “Commentary: Adams saw power of wealth as threat to the nation.” In that article Mayville writes,  

“Adams thought that the rich tended to be acquainted with men of professional success and high educational attainment, and that these talented and successful contacts ‘will be connected with them and attached to them.’ Will Conway, a presidential candidate in the TV drama House of Cards, defines power as ‘the people you collect.’ John Adams would add that wealth makes it much easier to collect people. Apart from their powerful networks of peers, the rich also possess top-down, hierarchical networks. Rich people often sit atop a social pyramid, with many less well-off individuals dependent on them for material needs. 

“’It will be easily conceived,’ Adams wrote, ‘that all the rich men will have many of the poor, in the various trades, manufactures, and other occupations in life, dependent upon them for their daily bread.’ Every rich man could claim to be a provider – or, in modern terms, a ‘job creator’ – and this claim would add weight to his political opinions. 

“Most uniquely, Adams thought that wealth generates power because wealth glitters. … [The wealthy] were, in Adams’ words, ‘the most difficult animals to manage of anything in the whole theory and practice of government.’” 

“John Adams did fear populism, and he sought institutions that would contain the threat of demagoguery. But as much as he feared the specter of populism, he feared the specter of oligarchy more. This fact makes his legacy all the more important in our time.  

“If Donald Trump campaigned as a populist firebrand, he is governing as oligarch-in-chief, a billionaire who refuses to resolve conflicts of interest and who has appointed a cabinet of billionaires and multimillionaires whose net wealth is greater than the combined GDP of the world’s poorest 39 countries.” 

It is a shame that we need reporters to investigate and rediscover what John Adams knew in the 18th Century.  

Mayer points out that others argued the elite minority (read this a Big Money) was driving extreme political partisanship as its interests and agenda lost touch with the economic realities of the rest of the population. Mayer paraphrases Mike Lofgren, a Republican who spent 30 years observing how wealthy interests gamed policy makers as a staff member of the Senate Budget Committee,  

he “decried what he called the ‘secession’ of the right in which they disconnected themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well-being except as a place to extract loot.” 

In Giants: The Global Power Elite, Peter Phillips argues that the members of Big Money should rightly be considered as international citizens. He has a point in that their businesses span the globe. They have houses all over the world, and more importantly, their profits are not dependent on the economic situation of the United States. Amazon has dedicated businesses operations in United States, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, Japan, China, India, and Mexico. If the US Middle Class is not doing well there is a negligible effect on Amazon’s total profits.  

The guest lists of these Koch sponsored seminars are nearly impossible to find. Guests are warned to destroy any notes they take during the proceedings. However, the guest list for the 2010 seminar was made public. Here are a few of the invisible rich influencing our national politics.   

  • Steven A Cohen: Cohen’s spectacularly successful hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, was the focus of an intense criminal investigation into insider trading. Prosecutors described his firm, which was based in Stamford Connecticut, as “a veritable magnet of market cheaters.” Forbes valued Cohen’s fortune at one point at $10.3 billion making his checkbook a formidable political weapon.   
  • Paul Singer: Forbes estimated his fortune at 1.9 billion. He ran the hugely lucrative hedge fund Elliott Management. Dubbed a vulture fund by critics, it was controversial for buying distressed debt in economically failing countries at a discount and then taking aggressive legal action to force the strapped nations, which had expected their loans to be forgiven, to instead pay him back at a profit. Although Singer insisted that he didn’t buy debt from the poorest of the poor nations, (This really is not an excuse, is it?), his methods, while highly lucrative, brought public scorn and government scrutiny. Singer described himself as a Goldwater, free-enterprise conservative, and he contributed generously to promoting free market ideology, but at the same time his firm reportedly sought unusual government help in squeezing several desperately impoverished governments.   
  • Robert Mercer: He is well known for his financial dealings and the success of his stock trading company Renaissance Technologies that did massive amounts of computer driven stock trades. The IRS was investigating whether his firm improperly avoid paying billions of dollars in tax, a charge the firm denied. Employment laws would prove an embarrassing headache to him; three domestic servants sued him for refusing to pay overtime and maintained that he had docked their wages unfairly for infractions such as failing to replace shampoo bottles in his bathrooms when they were less than one third full. With a pay package of $125 million in 2011, Mercer was ranked by Forbes as the 16th highest paid hedge fund manager that year.  
  • Richard Strong: Founder of the mutual fund Strong Capital Management, he was banned from the financial industry for life because of an insider trading scandal. After it all was settled, and he had sold his company’s assets to Wells Fargo, he was wealthier than before.   
  • Richard DeVos: Co-founder of Amway. He pleaded guilty in a criminal scheme to defraud Canada of 22 million in customs duties. He plead guilty because evidence showed he was guilty. He paid $20 million dollar fine, which did not dent his $5.7 billion dollar fortune very much. His son and daughter were facing $5.2 million civil fine for violating Ohio’s campaign finance laws in 2010  
  • Corbin Robertson Jr.: He bet big on coal. Forbes claimed he owned 21 billion tons of coal. Investigative reporters linked Robertson to several political front groups fighting efforts by the EPA to control pollution emitted by coal burning utilities. One such group was called Plants Need CO2  
  • Don Blankenship: After the Upper Big Branch mine explosion killed 29 miners, a government investigation found Massey Energy negligent on multiple safety fronts, and Blankenship was indicted.  
  • Larry Nichols, co-founder of Devon Energy, and Harold Hamm, founder of Continental Resources: They made their money in fracking. They campaigned to preserve tax loopholes for oil produces and gained notoriety for a growing record of environmental and workplace safety violations. Hamm’s fortune is estimated at $8.2 billion dollars as of 2015.  
  • Sheldon Adelson: founding chairman and chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the world’s largest gambling company, whose fortune Forbes estimated at $31.4 billion, was facing a bribery investigation by the Justice Department in 2010. His company may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in settling licenses to operate casinos in Macao. 
  • Koch Brothers: Had the same worries as Adelson having made illicit payments in Algeria, Egypt, India, Morocco, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. Charles Koch’s fortune was estimated at $50 billion in 2019 (1,585 years) 
  • Richard Farmer: Chairman of the Cincinnati-based Cintas Corporation, the nation’s largest uniform supply company, was facing legal problem because of an employee’s death. The employee got caught on a conveyor belt, dragged to a heat source, and burned to death in an industrial dryer. Cintas reached a $2.76 million dollar settlement with OSHA. Prior to the accident, Cintas had been cited for 170 safety violations, 70 of which inspectors characterized as life threatening.  
  • Thomas Stewart: Built his father’s food business into the behemoth Services Group of America, which generates 3.6 billion dollars a year, loved flying in his helicopter and corporate jet. But when a former company pilot refused to take his aeronautic advice because it violated Federal Aviation Administration regulations, according to an interview with the pilot in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stewart “rose out of his chair and screamed, ‘I can do anything I want.'” 

The highlight of the 2009 seminar, Mayer tells us, was a debate between Texas Senator John Cornyn, the head of the national Republican Senatorial Committee and a former member of the Texan Supreme Court, and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint. Mayer says, Cornyn spoke in favor of broadening the appeal of the Republican Party to a large group of voters and fighting their way back into power. It is a common-sense approach used by political parties since forever. You cannot win if you cannot get votes. Mayer says DeMint portrayed this as surrender. Mayer writes, 

“[DeMint] had little patience for the slow-moving process of constitutional government. He regarded many of his Senate colleagues as timid and self-serving. The federal government posed such a dire threat to the dynamism of the American economy, in his view, that anything less than all-out war on regulations and spending was a cop-out. DeMint was the face of a new kind of extremism, and he spoke that evening in favor of purifying rather than diluting, the Republican Party. He argued that he would rather have ‘thirty Republicans who believed in something than a majority who believed in nothing,’ a line that was a mantra with him and that brought cheers and applause from the gathered onlookers. Rather than compromising their principles and working with the new administration, DeMint, argued, Republicans needed to take a firm stand against Obama, waging a campaign of massive resistance and obstruction, regardless of the 2008 election outcome.” 

DeMint’s call for resistance and obstruction was not new. Republicans had been doing just that since the 1990s and Newt Gingrich’s time in office. In fact, they are still doing it today. This, of course, is a crime against a democracy as democracies cannot function unless all the people involve are willing to together to establish some kind of political peace.  

The fact that DeMint openly rejected any kind of political process or compromise marks him as an ideologue. For any ideologue their vision of what should be is more important than any kind of human consideration for those who disagree. Therefore, accommodating the needs of others is impossible because that would be betraying their all-important, all-encompassing vision that will make life perfect. Democracies are killed by ideologies because the foundation of a democracy is a free society where all are free to choose their own beliefs, and ideologues cannot accept anything they disagree with. Extremism and radicalism must have a foundation to build on, and that foundation is most often an ideology or a religion. 

Mayer describes Cornyn as expecting a gentlemanly debate, but suddenly finding himself defending his position in a very hostile room as the vast majority were cheering DeMint. Sitting silently were Charles and Liz Koch.  

You will remember that back in 2009 one of the very active issues was the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). TARP was a government program to purchase toxic assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen the financial sector that was collapsing in the face of the subprime mortgage crisis, which set off the Great Recession. TARP was signed into law by Bush the Younger on October 3, 2008. Mayer points out that everyone in the room, and many journalists after the fact, assumed that Koch was a hard-core free market advocate and would therefore be against the TARP bailouts. She says that DeMint believed market panic was enough to correct the situation.  

At the beginning of the crisis, Mayer says, the Koch run political organization, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), took the principled libertarian position when the bottom fell out of the economy. However, quite quickly and silently, AFP changed its position when things began to affect the Koch’s vast investment portfolio. In fact, Mayer says that AFP’s change of position was used to convince conservatives in Congress that TARP was needed. This was not the first time that personal interest trumped their free market principles.  

Charles Koch and Libertarianism 

Charles Koch was an enthusiastic supporter of the Freedom School after he had gained some independence from his family. According to Mayer, the Freedom School was so antigovernment that it wanted to scrap the Constitution in favor of a new one that limited the government’s ability to impose compulsory tax. That idea is still being pushed today and would be the end of the democratic United States as we know it. Mayer says the Freedom School opposed all Medicare and antipoverty programs, and most likely opposed government-sponsored integration. Mayer claims, several people associated with the Freedom School were segregationists. Furthermore, according to Mayer, the school taught a revisionist history of the US where the Robber Barons were heroes, the Gilded Age was the best time in the history of the United States, taxes are theft, the New Deal and the Great Society were turns towards communism, the poor should be cared for only through charity, and the South should have been allowed to seceded from the Union because slavery was a lesser evil than military conscription. In short, the Freedom School rejected any and all human responsibilities to others while praising those who amassed huge fortunes. You can see why Koch was drawn to it. The Freedom School eased his quilt over his selfishness, and told him his riches made him better than everybody else.  

Mayer points out that when the Koch’s got their most famous front group, The Tea Party, going, its agenda was almost an exact replica of the Freedom School’s curricula. 

  • Repeal of all campaign finance laws 
  • Abolish the FEC 
  • Abolish all government health-care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid 
  • Abolish social security 
  • Opposed all income and corporate taxes 
  • Abolish Securities and Exchange Commission, the EPA, FBI, and CIA 
  • Abolish all laws that impeded employment, by which they meant minimum wage and child labor laws 
  • Abolish public schools 
  • Abolish FDA, OSHA, seat belt laws 
  • Abolish all welfare for the poor 

Like all of us Charles learned from his family, and by all accounts Charles’ father was a very strict disciplinarian, and kept all his sons on a very short leash. Mayer quotes Clayton Coppin’s, unpublished 2003 report, “Stealth: The History of Charles Koch’s Political Activities,” as saying “Charles harbored a hatred of the government so intense it could only be truly understood as an extension of his childhood conflicts with authority.” Mayer further states, 

“Had Charles wanted merely to promote free-market economic theories, he could have supported several established organizations, but instead he was attracted to fringe groups that bordered on anarchism. Coppin suggests, ‘He was driven by some deeper urge to smash the one thing left in the world that could discipline him: the government.’” 

Mayer says that, like his father, Charles was a member and supporter of the John Birch Society (JBS) in his early years. It should be said that while he was a member Koch did not believe that all of JBS’s ideas were true. In my opinion, the important thing that Koch took away from JBS was secrecy.  

The John Birch Society was founded in 1958 as an anti-communist advocacy group. During the 50s and 60s the Soviet Union was regarded as the center of a monolithic, worldwide, communist conspiracy that was going to take over the world without firing a shot. The John Birch Society planned on becoming the anticommunist conspiracy that was going to save the world. JBS tried to do this by using modern sales techniques, advertised heavily, and going door-to-door to spread its ideas. What they never did was openly come out and say what were their true goals.  

They took far-right, political positions, and fed their fear of a communist conspiracy by accusing everything they opposed as being in some way associated with or infiltrated by communists. The organization supported limited government and opposed wealth redistribution and economic interventionism. According to Wikipedia, JBS opposed collectivism, totalitarianism, anarchism and communism, and it opposed socialism as well, which it asserted was infiltrating U.S. governmental administration. JBS is also known to have established front groups to give the appearance of a growing movement.  

In a 1976, Mayer tells us, based on a $65,000 donation from Koch, the Center for Libertarian Studies (CLS) was launched. At CLS’s first conference Koch presented a paper, which like all the others Mayer says, “are striking in their radicalism, their disdain for the public, and their belief in the necessity of political subterfuge.” Mayer quotes Charles as saying, “In order to avoid undesirable criticism, how CLS is controlled and directed should not by widely advertised.” Furthermore, Mayer quotes Koch as saying “[he] cautioned his fellow radicals that to win, they would need to cultivate credible leaders and a positive image, unlike the JBS, requiring them to ‘work with, rather than combat, the people in media and arts.’” White supremacists are using the same approach these days.  

Not surprisingly, Mayer tells us that Koch suggested that their best bet of gaining new adherents was to focus on youth because the young are most likely to accept radical ideas. Mayer tells us how Koch would act on his belief by “funneling millions of dollars into education indoctrination, with free-market curricula and even video games promoting his ideology pitched to prospects as young as grade school.” 

Mayer says that another speaker, Leonard Liggio, a libertarian historian, cited the success of the Nazi model. Mayer recounts,  

“In his paper titled ‘National Socialist Political Strategy: Social Changer in a Modern industrial Society with an Authoritarian Tradition,’ Liggio, who was affiliated with the Koch funded Institute for Humane Studies (HIS) from 1974 until 1998, described the Nazi’s successful creation of a youth movement as key to their capture of the state. Like the Nazis, he suggested, libertarians should organize university students to create group identity.” 

Any time your copying Nazis you really should be aware that you have crossed a line.  

At the same conference in 1976, George Pearson, a former JBS member and Koch political lieutenant during these years, Mayer quotes as saying “It would be necessary to use ambiguous and misleading names, obscure the true agenda, and conceal the means of control.” This is the method that Charles Koch would soon practice in his charitable giving, and later in his political activism. Mayer says that Pearson further asserted that traditional gifts to universities were not enough. He purposed, according to Mayer, “funding private institutions within prestigious universities where influence over hiring decisions and other forms of control could be exerted by donors while hiding their radical agenda.” 

So, it was said, and so it was done.  

https://www.inquirer.com/philly/opinion/20170129_Commentary__Adams_saw_power_of_wealth_as_threat_to_the_nation.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubled_Asset_Relief_Program

https://www.thecrimson.com/article/1959/12/17/colorados-freedom-school-preaches-absolute-rights/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birch_Society

Weaponizing philanthropy: the war of ideas 1970-2008 

Think tanks 

When discussing think tanks, Mayer focuses on Richard Mellon Scaife because he was such a prolific think tank founder and supporter. Scaife estimates that he spent $1 billion dollars on philanthropy. He further estimates that of that $ 1 billion dollars $620 million was spent influencing public affairs. In fact, in 1999, Mayer quotes the Washington Post as saying of Scaife, in 1999, that he was “”the leading financial supporter of the movement that reshaped American politics in the last quarter century.” One further fact, Mayer tells us that in his autobiography Scaife estimates that he bankrolled 133 of the conservative movement’s 300 most important institutions. 

Mayer describes Scaife’s family history like this. Scaife’s great-uncle was Andrew Mellon who was Treasury Secretary under Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, and a leading figure in the counterrevolution against the progressive movement of the time. Scaife inherited his money from the family along with a political point of view that was rooted in the age of the Robber Barons. Andrew Mellon was a leading figure for rolling back the federal income tax despite the fact that it created an equality of sacrifice for the common good of US society. Furthermore, Mellon was the wealthiest man in the United States, and he was involved in several of the monopolies that were in absolute control of US society before President Teddy Roosevelt broke them up.  

Moving on to Scaife’s finances Mayer tells us that when Scaife’s father died in 1958, his mother set up two charitable trusts of $50 million for both of her children. By the time the Scaife family history would play itself out, Richard would control trusts worth $250 million dollars in the 1960s. For the time, this was an extraordinary amount of money.  

Mayer says, the trusts were all set up according to US tax law, which allows the tax-free transfer of inherited wealth provided that the net income after the transfer is given to charity. So, when Scaife received his $50 million dollars he did not have to pay taxes on it as long as any profits that money made were given away for a specific amount of time. After that time limit, Scaife would have to pay regular taxes like everybody else.  

This sounds like a good deal for everybody. The Wealthy can transfer their money tax free, and society gains from an increase of charitable giving. However, Mayer describes the present situation like this, 

“A consequence, however, was that the tax code turned many extraordinarily wealthy families, intent upon preserving their fortunes into major forces in America’s civic sector. In order to shelter themselves from taxes, they were required to invent a public philanthropic role. In the instance of both the Kochs, the Scaifes, and a great many other conservative, self-interested billionaires, the tax law ended up spurring the founding of the modern conservative movement.” 

Mayer further states,  

“Private foundations have very few legal restrictions. They are required to donate at least 5% of their assets every year to public charities – referred to as “nonprofit” organizations. In exchange, the donors are granted deductions, enabling them to reduce their income taxes dramatically. This arrangement enables the wealthy to simultaneously receive generous tax subsidies and use their foundations to impact society as they please. In addition, the process often confers and aura of generosity and public-spiritedness on the donors, acting as a salve against class resentment.” 

Let us make sure we understand. For the tax-free transfer of wealth, millionaires and billionaires are required to serve the public good. To do this they start a private foundation, which they control. Then they donate to that foundation and get an income tax break for donating to themselves, and they only have to give 5% of that donation to non-profits. The other 95% they can use as they wish.  

Mayer states that,  

“In 2013, there were over a hundred thousand private foundations in the United States with assets of over $800 billion. These peculiarly American organizations, run with little transparency or accountability to either voters or consumers, yet publicly subsidized tax breaks have grown into an 800-billion-pound Goliath in the public policy realm.” 

To give us the modern day take on private foundations, Mayer quotes Richard Posner the iconoclastic libertarian legal scholar who has called “perpetual charitable foundations a ‘completely irresponsible institution, answerable to nobody,’ and suggested that ‘the puzzle in economics is why these foundations are not total scandals.’” Wikipedia gives Posner’s credentials as “… an American jurist and economist who was a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago from 1981 until 2017, and is a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.” 

According to Wikipedia, Rob Reich, not to be confused with Robert Reich, is an “American political scientist and professor of political science at Stanford University. A political theorist, Reich’s work focuses primarily on applied ethics, educational inequality and the role of philanthropy in the public sector, along with other topics in liberal democratic theory.” Mayer quotes Rob Reich as saying the private foundations “represent virtually by definition plutocratic voices,” and that they were “troubling because they were considered deeply and fundamentally anti-democratic … an entity that would undermine political equality, affect public policies, and could exist in perpetuity.” 

The tax law that started all of this was put into place around the time that income tax was started. Unfortunately, Mayer is not very specific about when private foundations were first created. That in itself would be a book worth reading.  

Mayer points out that even at the time, around the beginning of the 20th-Century people objected. First Mayer gives us the opinion of John Haynes Holmes (November 29, 1879 – April 3, 1964) who was a prominent Unitarian minister, pacifist, and co-founder of the NAACP and the ACLU. She quotes Holmes as saying private foundations were “repugnant to the whole idea of democratic society.” Then we hear from Frank Walsh who was chairman of the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations in 1915. Mayer quotes him as saying “huge philanthropic trusts, known as foundations, appear to be a menace to the welfare of society.” 

Mayer tells us that John Judis writes in “The Paradox of American Democracy” that earlier think tanks, those founded before the 1970s, strove to promote the general public interest, not narrow private or partisan ideas. For example, the Brookings Institute, which was founded in 1916, states that its mission is to be “free from any political or pecuniary interests.” Mayer states that the Rockefeller, Ford, and Russell Sage foundations had similar mission statements. There is something to keep in mind about non-partisan foundations in the modern era. They are dependent on donations, so as the political spectrum moves farther and farther to the right non-partisan foundations are forced to move with their donors, or go out of business.  

What drove Big Money into working so pointedly for their own self-interest when previously they were content to self the public good as they could? The answer to the question is fear. The liberalism of the 60s and 70s made them fear for their fortunes as they struggled with numerous social changes. 

  • Environmental protections that increased costs, but protected the US populous from dirty air and water 
  • Worker rights protections that increased costs, but forced corporations to treat their workers with respect and not as throw away tools 
  • Toxic chemical control protections that increased costs, but protected the US populous from cancers caused by chemical exposure 
  • The social changes like increased voting rights, and increased legal rights for social groups that had up until that time been pushed off in the corner, which simply threatened their world view. 

Big Money conservatives looked at this situation with fear. Their taxes were going up. Their costs were going up, and they were afraid that their fortunes would go down. Furthermore, Anti-Vietnam war protestors were beginning to ignore Washington and focus on the multinational corporations and their role in the war, which was very profitable. They looked at all of this and did not see social responsibility but a loss of their “freedom.” 

The next important character in Mayer’s story is Lewis Powell. In 1971, he was an eminent corporate lawyer. Later in life he would become a Supreme Court Justice. Mayer says of Powell, 

 “[He] was the author of a brilliant battle plan detailing how conservative business interest could reclaim American politics. In the spirit of Hannibal, it called for a devastating surprise attack on the bloated and self-satisfied establishment, which regarded itself as non-partisan but which the conservatives regarded as liberal. Carrying out this attack would be an alternative opinion elite that would look like the existing one, except that it would be privately funded by avowedly partisan donors’ intent on implementing a pro-business – and, critics would say, self-serving – political agenda.” 

Powell’s memo, a 5000-word treatise on what should be done to save the corporations of the United States was circulated among the business elite in secret. It ultimately became one of the founding documents of the libertarian takeover of the United States. Writing about the memo, Mayer says,  

“What distinguished [Powell’s point of view] from that of many other conservatives was his argument that the greatest threat was posed not by a few “extremists on the left,” but rather by ‘perfectly respectable elements of society.’ The real enemies, he suggested, were ‘the college campuses, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, ” and ‘politicians.'” … “He argued that conservatives should control the political debate at its source by demanding ‘balance’ in textbooks, television shows, and news coverage. Donors he argued, should demand a say in university hiring and curriculum and ‘press vigorously in all political arenas.’ The key to victory, he predicted, was ‘careful long-range planning and implementation,’ backed by a ‘scale of financing available only through joint effort.'” 

There is a link to the Powell memo below if you are interested in reading it.  

Powell was not alone in his point of view. Mayer points to Irving Krystol, a conservative columnist at the Wall Street Journal who, “counseled business leaders to be wilier about public relations, arguing that they needed to downplay their ‘single-minded pursuit of self-interest; and instead tout moral values like family and faith.” I think we all can remember the Republican Party wrapping itself in the mantel of family values. Mayer also shows us Patrick Buchanan who, “argued in 1973 that in order to become a permanent political majority, conservatives needed to persuade corporate American and pro-Republican foundations to fund a think tank that would act as a ‘tax-exempt refuge,’ a ‘talent bank’ and a ‘communication center.'” 

According to Mayer, Buchanan got his wish when in 1975 the Scaife Family Charitable Trust donated $195,000 to a new conservative think tank called the Heritage Foundation. She states that think tanks were not new in the 1970s. In fact, they had been around for a while, but until that point, they did not drum up documentation to support any particular agenda. Speaking of the Heritage Foundation, Mayer writes it was, 

 “purposefully political, [and prided] itself on creating, selling, and injecting deeply conservative ideas into the American mainstream” For the next 10 years, Scaife would be the Heritage Foundation’s largest donor. In fact, according to Mayer, by 1998, Scaife’s total donations would total $23 million dollars.  

Over the years, Buchanan got more than he wished for. There is not just one right-wing think tank. Mayer tells us there are one hundred thousand of them. The communication responsibilities are handled by Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting. Fox News was established in 1996, and has marked itself as an extremely partisan purveyor of news. Sinclair Broadcasting makes sure that Fox News reaches 75% of all the televisions in the United States. Fox can get away with their partisanship because their charter classifies them as entertainment, which means they do not have to meet the same journalistic standards as the main stream news outlets. 

In the early 1980s, Clare Booth Luce died, and found in her private papers, according to Mayer, was a list of early supporters of the Heritage Foundation. That list was, 

“crammed with Fortune 500 companies; Amoco, Amway, Boeing, Chase Manhattan Bank, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Exxon, General Electric, General Motors, Mesa Petroleum, Mobil Oil, Pfizer, Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble, R.J. Reynolds, Searle, Sears, Roebuck, SmithKline, Beckman, Union Carbide and Union Pacific were all by then paying the think tank’s bills – while the think tank was promoting their agendas.” 

As you can imagine from what Mayer has told us, the Heritage Foundation, and its multinational corporate sponsors, presented themselves as non-partisan while espousing libertarian ideology from the beginning. Heritage as all for lower taxes, looser regulations and fewer government program for the Poor and Middle Class Mayer tells us. When presented in the light of individual freedom these things sound reasonable; however, that point of view does not take into account the power of money.  

We have forgotten that money is political as well as economic power. Lower taxes mean that Big Money has more capital to use as they wish. Looser regulations mean that Big Money can cut more corners in the name of profits and shareholder dividends. They do not have to worry about the effects of their activities on the environment or workers. Industrial accidents become less of a threat because there are fewer laws that protect workers. Fewer government programs for the Poor and Middle Class mean that the work force is more desperate. Unemployment insurance is not a free hand out to loafers. It is a support that allows workers to survive while they look for the best job possible. Without that kind of government support, workers of all types are forced to take whatever job they can get for whatever wage is offered. This situation, of course, drives the cost of labor down for any and all businesses. So, the proposals of the Heritage Foundation all play into the accumulation of wealth by those who already have it giving them still more political and economic power.  

Mayer can find no way of knowing how much money was poured into right-wing think tanks, or exactly how effective those think tanks have been. But they did make libertarian ideas respectable. She does show the initial response to the Heritage Foundation.  

  • Republicans gained three Senate seats, fifteen House seats, and six governorships.  
  • Newt Gingrich was elected to Congress.  
  • The National Conservative Political Action Committee was founded and began running attack ads with privately donated money. 
  • When Jimmy Carter was elected the labor movement expected ambitious gains to be made. Instead, they suffered a series of devastating setbacks at the hands of an ascendant business caucus backed by the expanding network of think tank tanks and outside lobby groups. 

The Republican Study Committee (FSC) was a caucus that united outside lobbyists and elected officials, according to Mayer. She says, “For years, Heritage Foundation personnel were the only outsiders allowed to regularly caucus with Republican members of Congress.” Lobbyists push whatever point of view their corporate employer tells them too, so they would represent a myriad of specific interests. The Heritage Foundation staffers who attended the RSC were the only ones bringing a unified philosophical point of view, and they were libertarian. Mayer quotes Don Eberly, the Director of the Heritage Foundation in the 1980s, as saying, “We are basically a conduit to and from conservative members of the House.” She further states, “By creating their own idea factories, extreme donors had found a way to dominate American politics outside the parties.” 

Scaife, Mayer tells us, started the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is a group aimed at waging right-wing fights in every state in the Union by providing prewritten legislation. Between 1973 and 1983, Scaife and his family donated half a million dollars to ALEC, which was most of its budget. At the time of his death, Scaife’s personal trust had $450 million, so $500,000 amounts to 0.001%…. pocket change. Such is the power of concentrated wealth. 

In 1980, Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter for the presidency. The record shows that Reagan embraced the Heritage Foundation’s phone-book sized policy book, which laid out 1,270 specific proposals. According to Mayer, Reagan implemented 61% of them. The result was that top income rates were cut from 70% to 28% while taxes on the bottom 4/5 of earners went up, and economic inequality flatlined before it began to rise. As you can imagine, taxes on oil profits were cut and Koch Industries’ profits skyrocketed.  

Think tanks do more than just influence politicians. Mayer writes,  

“The new, hyper-partisan think tanks had impact far beyond Washington. They introduced doubt into areas of settled academic and scientific scholarship, undermined genuinely unbiased experts, and gave politicians a menu of conflicting statistics and arguments from which to choose. The benefit was a far more pluralistic intellectual climate, beyond liberal orthodoxy. The hazard, however was that partisan shills would create ‘balance’ based on fraudulent research and deceive the public about pressing issues in which their sponsors had financial interests.” 

I read today that Qanon is pushing the idea that our president is faking that he has covid as part of a plot to arrest Hillary Clinton. If that is not a partisan shill deceiving the public, I do not know what is.  

Mayer further writes,  

“One measure of the movement’s impact was that starting in 1973, and for successive decades afterward, the public’s trust in government continually sank. If there was a unified message pushed by those financing the conservative movement, it was that government rather than busines was America’s problem. By the early 1980s, the reversal in public opinion was so significant that American’s distrust of government for the first time surpassed their distrust of business.” 

Nowadays, many people think that the problem with government is that it is inefficient, so they look to business leaders as a way of making the government more efficient. What they forget is that all businesses are dictatorships. The CEO speaks and everybody reacts. In contrast, the US government is not supposed to be efficient. In fact, it is purposely inefficient to assure that the minority has every opportunity to participate in the political process and thereby convince the majority that they are wrong. Of course, the majority can be wrong. Unfortunately, in 2016, the people of the US elected someone with a business reputation, but seriously dangerous international entanglements. Our president has spent the last three years tearing down governmental oversight, escaping or ignoring his responsibilities to the US populous, and lying at every turn about just about everything. He is a man who praises dictators and aspires to be like Putin and Xi; the permanent head of a fake democracy.  

Mayer’s final comment about Richard Scaife is in regards to his obsessive funding of investigations on the Clintons. It is hard to understand why Scaife went to so much trouble about the Clintons. His own life ended with him living with his long-time lover, without divorcing his wife. Mayer writes,  

“Equally hard to fathom is how Scaife rationalized his foundations’ funding of an obsessive investigation of President Clinton’s marital infidelities during the 1990s that came to be known as the Arkansas Project. Hiring private detectives to dig up dirt from anti-Clinton sources, the project funneled smutty half-truths to The American Spectator magazine, which was also funded by Scaife’s family foundations. Scaife’s foundations also poured money into lawsuits against Clinton, all of which helped whip up the political frenzy that led to the Clinton impeachment hearings.” 

The Arkansas Project eventually landed Scaife in legal trouble. Mayer states, “[Scaife] was subpoenaed to testify before a Grand Jury about possible charges of tampering with a federal witness.” 

From reading Mayer’s book, it is obvious that self-interested billionaires, armed with tax deductions, can have an immense impact on the politics of our nation.  

Around 2008, Mayer tells us that Scaife met with Hillary Clinton face to face. By this time, Clinton had “fingered [Scaife] as the ringleader of what she called a ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ to torment the Clintons.” Surprisingly, Mayer says that after the meeting, Scaife wrote an opinion piece about Hillary in which he admitted that he had changed his mind and that his opinion of her as a presidential candidate was “very favorable indeed.” 

Quoting personal friends of Scaife, Mayer states that he changed his opinion of a lot of people after he met them. His friend Ruddy said, “Like many billionaires, he lived in a bubble,” and contrary information rarely broke through. Instead of an open, reasoned approach to politics Scaife’s family fortune enabled him to build political institutions that reinforced his beliefs, and imposed them on the rest of the country.  

https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1078&context=darter_materials Powell memo 

Weaponizing philanthropy: the war of ideas 1970-2008 

Beachheads 

Despite his inherited wealth, John M. Olin regarded himself as a self-made man. Mayer says that the family wealth came from selling arms and explosives during WW I and WW II. In 1954, the company merges with a chemical company thereby doubling its size. Of the completely formed Olin company, Mayer says,  

“The conglomeration, whose revenues were half a billion dollars a year … made everything from pharmaceuticals in its Squibb division to cigarette papers. It manufactured Winchester rifles, and later, the hydrazine rocket fuel that powered Neil Armstrong’s 1969 lunar landing. 

According to Mayer, the official story about how Olin got involved in political activism is that Olin was on the Board of Trustees of Cornell University; his alma mater. In April of 1969, there was a student protest lead by African American students that became national news. Mayer describes the leader of the protest, calling himself The Minister of Defense, like this.  

“Strapped across his chest, Pancho Villa-style, was a sash-like Bandolier studded with bullet cartridges. Gripped nonchalantly in his right hand, with its butt resting on his hip, was a glistening rifle. Chin held high and sporting an Afro, goatee and eyeglasses reminiscent of Malcom X, he was the face of a drama so infamous it was regarded for years by conservatives … as ‘the most disgraceful occurrence in the history of American education.’” 

The Minister of Defense’s photograph made national news, and was enough, according to Mayer, to make Olin stop donating to hospitals, museums and other more patrician causes. Instead, he embarked on a more radical from of philanthropy. Mayer says Olin directed his foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation founded in 1953, to fund an ambitious offensive to reorient the political slant of the higher education institutions in the United States. She writes,  

“By the time the John M. Olin Foundation spent itself out of existence in 2005, as called for in its founders will, it had spent about half of its assets of $370 million bankrolling the promotion of free-market ideology and other conservative ideas on the country’s campuses. In doing so, it molded and credentialed a whole new generation of conservative graduates and professors.” 

To give us some perspective on the achievements of the Olin Foundation Mayer quotes Olin’s biographer John Miller: “These efforts have been instrumental in challenging the campus left – or more specifically, the problem of radical activists gaining control of America’s colleges and universities.” 

Mayer, however, disagrees with the official story. Mayer says that the true is that the change in direction began 4 years later in 1973. She points out that in 1973 the Olin Corporations was in a lot of trouble with a lot of governmental and private agencies over environmental controversies. Nixon signed the Environmental Protection Agency into existence in 1970, which discovered the dangers of DDT a major Olin Corporation product. In addition, the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation were all began suing Olin Corporation over DDT. 

For those who have forgotten, or never knew, about DDT. The Pesticide Action Network says that DDT was initially used because it was very effective against insects. However, the human consequences of DDT proved to be severe as well. 

  • Breast and other cancers 
  • Male infertility 
  • Miscarriage and low birth weight 
  • Developmental delay 
  • Nervous system and live damage 

Wikipedia describes the environmental damage like this,  

“Because of its lipophilic properties, DDT can bioaccumulate, especially in predatory birds. DDT is toxic to a wide range of living organisms, including marine animals such as crayfish, daphnids, sea shrimp and many species of fish. DDT, DDE and DDD magnify through the food chain, with apex predators such as raptor birds concentrating more chemicals than other animals in the same environment. They are stored mainly in body fat. DDT and DDE are resistant to metabolism; in humans, their half-lives are 6 and up to 10 years, respectively. In the United States, these chemicals were detected in almost all human blood samples tested by the Centers for Disease Control in 2005, though their levels have sharply declined since most uses were banned. Estimated dietary intake has declined, although FDA food tests commonly detect it.” 

Imagine, a pesticide that was banned in 1970 is still in our food supply today. If you look at the CDC’s descriptions of DDT, after 4 years of our corporate friendly, democratically irresponsible president, you find a very much sanitized version of the dangers. I quoted sources that coincided with what I remembered from my youth.  

Mayer tells us “The company fought a losing battle against the government over DDT both because of the pollutants created by its manufacture and the poisonous nature of the DDT itself.” As you can imagine the court battle lasted for years. However, Mayer says, “Eventually, the Olin Corporation and three of its former corporate officers were convicted of falsifying records in [a] dumping case, after which the presiding judge imposed the maximum available fine of $700,000 on the company.” 

Saltville Virginia was another big environmental problem for one of Olin Corporation’s chemical plants. Saltville was the typical company town where the only job in town was in the factory. Olin Corporation ran all the grocery stores, the water system, the sewer system, the only school, and it owned all the housing. There was also a swimming pool and a small stadium. Just like in the company owned coal mining towns that Unites States labor unions worked so hard to liberate in the 1930s, the workers at Olin’s chemical plant ended up giving all their wages back to the company paying for living expenses.  

The environmental problem in Saltville was mercury, which Mayer says was found 80 miles downriver from the plant. In fact, Mayer tells us that the problem was so bad that Saltville Virginia became the EPA’s first superfund cleanup site. The situation is that the chemical wastes from Olin’s manufacturing process are stored in extremely large holding ponds, and those chemicals were leaking out and contaminating local ground water, soil, and the nearby river. Those wastes are industrially useless, so they cannot be recycled in anyway, and they are toxic to animals and humans. Since there is no way to get rid of these wastes, the only thing that the EPA can do is make sure that the Olin Corporation makes the necessary repairs and/or changes to keep the waste in the ponds. There has been a chemical plant in Saltville since at least 1924. Olin took over the plant in 1969. It was closed in 1971.  

So, here is the Olin Corporation being forced by the EPA to do the socially responsible thing; protecting the local inhabitants from its manufacturing wastes. I don’t know what the yearly outlay is to comply with EPA directives, but it does not really matter. As a citizen of the United States, I see no reason why the inhabitants of Saltville should be left to deal with cancers, or other illness, because a corporation wanted to make a profit. In 2010, Citizen United forced us to consider corporations as people. Fine. It is a terrible idea, but for now we are stuck with it. In the meantime, they had better be good people with a social conscious, and clean up their messes. Of course, from Olin’s point of view the jobs he created, and the chemicals he produced are a substantial contribution to US society, and being forced to be the permanent caretaker of toxic waste seems like a bit much; especially since it will cost money forever. Is it not the “Right” that insists on personal responsibility above everything?  

 Mayer interviewed former Olin Foundation officials about the company’s environmental record. She writes,  

“Former officials at the Olin Foundation, when asked about the company’s ignominious environmental record, downplay any link to the nonprofit’s pro-corporate, antiregulatory ideology. ‘It is possible that Mr. Olin as influenced to some degree by litigation and regulations against the company,’ says James Piereson, the conservative scholar, who was executive director and trustee of the Olin Foundation from 1985 to 2005. ‘But that would be one factor among many others; and he was no longer running the company on a day to day basis by this time.’ He added, ‘There were a lot of cross currents in the air: The Cold War, détente, Watergate, inflation, a stock market crash, war in the Middle East, Vietnam, environmentalism, feminism.” 

I regard Piereson’s statements as disingenuous. In 1973, Olin, who was born in 1892, was 81 years old and only had 9 more years to live. He died in 1982. People in their eighties still have sharp minds, and a person with Olin’s wealth would be perfectly happy to live the life he chose while delegating responsibility to others. It would not be a requirement that Olin work day to day to achieve his goal. More importantly, government protections increase corporate costs and responsibilities. From Olin’s point of view a “pro-corporate, antiregulatory ideology” would make perfect sense. As we saw in part 2, the present-day purpose of private foundations is to influence politics in favor of Big Money.  

Having given us a more probable reason for Olin to begin on his chosen philanthropic path, Mayer tells us the story of how Olin came to choose this path. She tells us that his first steps were the normal ones for the time.  

“To fight back against the social pressures that were forcing his businesses to behave as thought they were part of society, Olin started by donating to already established conservative entities; the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Hoover Foundation, but soon focused on academia.” 

Pointing to Olin’s frame of mind, Mayer tells us about a private letter he wrote to the President of Cornell University.  

“‘It matters little to me whether the economic development is classified as Marxism, Keynesianism, or whatnot.’ He said he regarded ‘liberalism’ and ‘socialism’ as ‘synonymous.’ All of these academic trends, he asserted, needed ‘very serious study and correction.'” 

I guess when millions of dollars of profit are at stake the vast distinctions between liberalism and socialism are not important. I find this level of closed-mindedness astonishing, and I am at a loss to explain it. It has been my experience that social media “conservatives” reject any and all philosophical distinctions that might change their point of view from black and white to grey. I think they reject nuance out of the fear of finding out that the world is not how they perceive it. In part 2, Scaife’s friend pointed out that he thought that Scaife’s unexplainable turnaround about Hillary Clinton was the result of his finally stepping out of his bubble. He met Hillary and changed his mind about her. If Scaife’s bubble was created by his wealth, why would Olin be any different? Big Money’s money protects it from all of life’s dangers and pitfalls, and its members have lived lives of single-minded focus and ambition as they managed and grew their fortunes. So, anything that restricts their financial movements is bad and anything that eases their burdens is good. The suffering of their workers does not enter into their thinking because they are concerned with “larger issues,” growing a multimillion-dollar, multinational corporation into something even larger never mind the human cost.  

Mayer states that Frank O’Connell, the Olin’s labor lawyer, was given the job of figuring out how to influence universities. He talked to the Koch and Scaife foundations, and was given a reading list that included Fredrick Hayek’s essay “The Intellectual and Socialism,” which was written in 1949. There is a link below if you care to read it for yourself. Hayek’s goal at the time was to argue against the spread of socialism, which was a major topic after WW II and during the Cold War.  

Mayer has shown how Olin’s definition of socialism was so expansive, and it is reasonable to assume that the rest of Big Money feels the same, or they would not have adopted libertarianism and spent so much sustained time and effort to change the country in their favor. However, before you get to socialism, you first have to have a social consciousness, and these people are so rooted in their individual needs, wants, and desires that they see nothing wrong with anything they do.  

Mayer continues to trace the development of the Olin Foundation’s self-interested philanthropy by telling us that Willam Simon was hired to run the foundation in 1977. Mayre writes,  

“Simon had been energy czar and treasury secretary under presidents Nixon and Ford and was a famously intemperate critic of those he called ‘stupid.’ This very large category included liberals, radicals, and moderate members of his own Republican Party. Like Olin, he was incensed by the expansion of the regulatory state.” 

“In his 1978 manifesto, “A Time for Truth, he wrote, ‘Since the 60s, the vast bulk of regulatory legislation passed by Congress … [has] been largely initiated by a powerful new lobby that goes by the name of the Public Interest movement.’ Simon disparaged these ‘college-educated idealists’ who claimed to be working for the ‘wellbeing of consumers, the environment, minorities and other nonmaterial causes, accusing them of wanting to ‘expand police powers of the state over American producers.’ He challenged their purity. Noting that they claimed to care little for money, he accused them of being driven by another kind of self-interest. Quoting his colleague Irving Krystol, the neoconservative intellectual, he charged that these usurpers wanted ‘the power to shape our civilization.’ That power, he argued, should belong exclusively to ‘the free market.'” 

Let us talk about the phrase “the power to shape our civilization” for a moment. As we have seen, Big Money thinks that creating jobs and making profits is enough to make them the good guys of society. They disavow the environmental damage caused by manufacturing and feel that making them responsible for their excess is impugning their freedom. Libertarianism, as practiced by self-interested billionaires, is selfish in nature. It allows people to pick and choose who or what they are going to respond to because, according to libertarian theory, none of us has mandate over anybody. So, when a child is asked to clean his room, his parents have no authority to make him do so. Or, when a federal government demands that a multinational corporation be responsible or its industrial waste, again, to a libertarian, the federal government has no moral authority to force its will on others.  

What libertarians in general have missed is that in a situation where nobody has to work together with anybody it is the most powerful who will get their way. Libertarianism gives free license to Big Money to do as it pleases and, in the process, “shape our civilization” to its liking. Social justice issues like economic equality, public health, long-term environmental degradation cannot produce profit, so they are pushed to the side. For example, to increase profits all businesses spend a great deal of time and effort on reducing costs. Labor costs are major expense and yet labor costs also assure a decent standard of living of the business’s workers. Poor businesses cut wages in the hopes of staying alive. Rich businesses keep wages low to increase profit. The result of low wages can be housing insecurity and starvation. Perhaps you remember the scandal of Walmart employees who could not survive on their wages alone and needed government assistance. As to long-term environmental degradation, the way to prevent it is to make a conscious decision that, for example, CO2 is bad and we need to eliminate it. But there’s no profit in that decision only increased costs. Business like to say that somehow in the future someone will invent a technology that will save us. He will then be able to sell that technology and make money. Technologies that reduce CO2 exist, but they cost money and have to be installed to work, and Big Money will not get involved because of reduced profits. Business will not be socially conscious unless the federal government is there to push them.  

So, when Simon says, “college-educated idealists” who claimed to be working for the ‘wellbeing of consumers, the environment, minorities and other nonmaterial causes,” are “expand[ing] police powers of the state over American producers” he is arguing for the ability to make profit unlimited by a social conscious.  

Both Piereson and Simon believed that only an ideological battle could save the country, and their strategy for starting the ideological battle they called beachhead theory. According to Mayer, Simon thought,  

“‘[It] can be organized to challenge our ruling ‘new-class’ — opinion makers,’ Simon wrote. ‘Ideas are weapons – indeed the only weapons with which other ideas can be fought.’ He argued, ‘Capitalism has no duty to subsidized its enemies.’ Private and corporate foundations, he said, must cease the mindless subsidizing of colleges and universities whose departments of politics, economic and history are hostile to capitalism.’ Instead, they ‘must take pains to funnel desperately needed funds to scholars, social scientists, and writers who understand the relationship between political and economic liberty,’ as he put it. ‘They must be given grants, grants, and more grants in exchange for books, book, and more books.'” 

Mayer shows us Piereson’s point of view next. Piereson thought the key,  

“was to fund the conservative intelligentsia in such a way that it would not ‘raise questions about academic integrity.’ Instead of trying to earmark a chair or dictate a faculty appointment, both of which he noted were bound to ‘generate fierce controversy,’ he suggested that conservative donors look for like-minded members whose influence could be enlarged by outsized funding. In time, such a professor could administer an expanded program. But Piereson warned that it was ‘essential for the integrity and reputation of the programs that they be defined not by ideological points of view.’ To overtly acknowledge ‘pre-ordained conclusions’ would doom a program. Instead of saying the program was designed to ‘demonstrate the falsity of Marxism’ or to promote ‘free enterprise,’ he advised that it was better to ‘define programs in terms of fields of study, [like the] John M. Olin Fellowship in Military History.’ He wrote, ‘Often a program can be given a philosophical or principled identity by giving it the name of an important historical figure, such as the James Madison Program [in] American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.'” 

The Olin Foundation invested in William F. Buckley’s television show Firing Line, which ran for 33 years and was the longest running public affairs TV show. It ran from 1966 to 1999. Mayer does not give us any indication as to how much the foundation invested or for how long they were invested in the show. Here is a link to a YouTube video of a discussion between Buckley and Noam Chomsky.  

 Noam Chomsky vs. William F Buckley on the Vietnam War- The Complete Interview  

The Olin Foundation also, according to Mayer, supported Allan Bloom while he wrote “The Closing of the American Mind” in 1987. In this book, according to Wikipedia,  

“the author criticizes the “openness” of relativism, in academia and society in general, as leading paradoxically to the great “closing” referenced in the book’s title. In Bloom’s view, “openness” and absolute understanding undermine critical thinking and eliminate the “point of view” that defines cultures. The book became an unexpected best seller, eventually selling close to half a million copies in hardback, but drew divided reactions from reviewers.” 

My reading of that description presents a man who is worried that the Caucasian American, Christian culture is going to have to make room for other peoples and ideas. Yours may be different.  

In 2017, Jacob Hamburger of Point Magazine wrote,  

“For Bloom, the countercultural movements of the Sixties had perverted the meaning of liberty—by expanding it. Not only did students now come to college to enjoy the freedom of philosophical exploration; they came just as much to be released from traditional restrictions on sex and most other social ‘vices.’ This new ‘liberation,’ Bloom claimed, did more harm than good, destroying old social norms without putting anything in their place.” 

The foundation also supported Dinesh D’Souza the author of “Illiberal Education” published in 1991. Whatever you may think of Illiberal Education as a book, if you follow D’Souza’s career, aside from a felony conviction, you’ll find a series of books with theses that get more and more outlandish and are more and more heavily criticized by commentators on both the “Left” and the “Right.” Here is a link to a review written in 1992 and published in the Michigan University Law Review.  

In addition to supporting right-wing authors, the Olin Foundation funded professors at leading universities all over the country, including, as Mayer tells us, “Harvard’s Harvey C. Mansfield and Samuel P. Huntington. It donated $3.3 million to Mansfield’s Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard, which emphasized a conservative interpretation of American government, and the foundation donated $8.4 million to Huntington’s John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, which inculcated a hawkish approach to foreign policy and national security.” In fact, Mayer says that “By the time the Olin Foundation closed its doors in 2005, they were supporting 11 different programs at Harvard.” 

Mayer states that “Between 1990 and 2001, fifty-six of the eighty-eight Olin fellows at the Harvard program continued on to teach at the University of Chicago, Cornell, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Harvard, MIT, Penn and Yale.” Furthermore, Mayer states that, “The foundation also doled out $8 million to over a hundred John M. Olin faculty fellows, which allowed them to research and publish.” 

University professors live and die by their ability to publish. The more you publish the further your career goes. However, if you publish through the university system you work has to be reviewed by other members of your department or other professors in your field. The Olin faculty fellows did not have to go through peer review. They wrote their books, handed them in, and Olin published them through commercial publishing houses.  

Peer review can be seen as a double-edged sword. Many will look at the process as the enforcement of academic orthodoxy. However, one of the foundations of a university is openness; the idea that any point of view that can be defended adequately is valid. Here the foundational issue is trust.   

The other side of things is that peer review ensures that anything that is published is adequately researched, and written in a way that demonstrates impartiality. What is wrong with what the Olin Foundation, and others did, was they hired people to write the book that said what they wanted people to hear, published them with no restrictions. 

If your book is rejected under peer review, you have two choices. You can rage against the machine and see yourself as a victim, or you can reevaluate your position in the light of the reviewer’s criticisms and move on. You are, of course, free to take you book to a commercial publishing house, but be warned, academic books are extremely hard to get published that way. The modern reader does not have the time or patience to wade through a lot of historical data and evaluate the conclusion. They want to be entertained. You know, like on TV. However, with the multimillion-dollar Olin Foundation behind you publishing is be a lot easier.  

John Miller wrote an authorized biography of Olin that was published in 2003. Mayer quotes him as writing, “a small handful of foundations have essentially provided the conservative movement with its venture capital.” By venture capital he means politically useful ideas. He then went on to write, “…conservative ideas are in broad circulations, and many believe they are now ascendant.” 

At this point in her book, Mayer gives us several more examples of books sponsored by the Olin Foundation. The authors are all academics of some sort or other, but the work they produced is of questionable quality. 

More Guns, Less Crime by John R. Lott Jr.: According to Wikipedia, Lott  

“is an American economist, political commentator, and gun rights advocate. Lott was formerly employed at various academic institutions including the University of Chicago, Yale University, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Maryland, College Park, and at the American Enterprise Institute conservative think tank. He is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, a nonprofit he founded in 2013. Lott holds a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA.” 

Lott argued that more guns actually reduced crime and the legalization of concealed weapons would make people safer. However, there was a problem with the book’s research. Mayer tells us,  

“Lott’s claimed source for this information was national surveys, which under questioning he revised to just one survey that he and his research assistant had conducted. When asked to provide the raw data, Lott claimed it has been lost in a computer crash.” 

Lott’s book, which flies in the face of common sense, serves a political purpose. It gives politicians justification for doing nothing in the face of gun violence. It also encourages gun owners the demand expanded rights in the name of “law and order” because the politicians have done nothing. Both of these things benefit gun manufacturers. The lack of political reaction to gun violence means that gun manufacturers are not hampered by suddenly imposed gun laws restricting manufacture or sales. It also means they can “push the fear button” and convince people that they should take justice in their own hands and buy a gun. Lott’s badly researched books was a corporate boon created by a libertarian philosophy pushed on us by Big Money.  

In the links below there is a critical review that shows why Lott is wrong written by Ian Ayers and John Donohue, and a rebuttal to that review provided by authors at the American Enterprise Institute; a prominent right-wing think tank. Ayers and Donohue state in their conclusion that they have been criticized for trying to use a statistical analysis to solve a social problem. To my mind that is a fair criticism. If you wish, you can wade through 148 pages of statistical analysis and try to decide who is right in the narrow case of the counties and states studied. This will not necessarily prove that Ayers and Donohue’s criticism is valid everywhere in the United States.  

All we really have to do is look at the rapidly escalating gun violence in the United States to see that neighbors are shooting neighbors, strangers are shooting strangers, and some are killing as many as they can. It should be painfully obvious to anybody looking at the United States as a whole that we are a very unhappy and divided people, and the last thing we need are more guns to vent our anger with. Below there is a link documenting gun violence in the US. In the case of guns, libertarian philosophies have been both deadly and profitable.  

The Real Anita Hill by David Brock: According to Wikipedia, Brock began his career as a conservative investigative journalist. At some point after this book, Brock changed his allegiance and began working for liberal and progressive causes. Wikipedia’s summary of the scandal is this,  

“In March 1992, in a 17,000-word article for The American Spectator, Brock challenged the claims of Anita Hill, who had accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Shortly thereafter Brock became a full-time staff member at that publication. (The American Spectator was owned by John Scraife at the time.) In 1993, Brock expanded his article into a book, The Real Anita Hill. Brock’s description of Hill in the book as ‘a bit nutty and a bit slutty’ was widely quoted.”  

The book became a best-seller. It was later attacked in a book review in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer, a reporter for The New Yorker, and Jill Abramson, who was at that time a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. The two later expanded their article into the book Strange Justice, which cast Anita Hill in a much more sympathetic light. It, too, was a best-seller. Brock replied to their book with a book review of his own in The American Spectator. (The American Spectator was owned by Scaife.) In that review, he asserted that Mayer and Abramson had no evidence to claim that Clarence Thomas was a habitual user of pornography. Later, in his book Blinded by the Right, he wrote, “When I wrote those words, I knew they were false. I put a lie in print.” 

Losing Ground by Charles Murray: Wikipedia describes Murray as  

“an American political scientist, writer, and public speaker. He is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. Murray’s work has been and remains highly controversial. The reason for the controversy, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center is he “[uses] racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor.” 

Mayer tells us that Murray worked at a Washington Beltway firm evaluating US government social programs before he became famous. In fact, he was thinking about writing a thriller novel when the Heritage Foundation placed an antiwelfare piece he had written in the Wall Street Journal. That brought him to the attention of the Olin Foundation who gave him a grant to work full-time on a book.  

This is what Mayer says about Murray’s book,  

“Losing Ground, which was written in a tone of sorrow rather than anger, blamed government programs for creating a culture of dependence among the poor. Critics said it overlooked macroeconomic issues over which the poor had no control, and academics and journalists were split, with several challenging Murray’s scholarship. Nonetheless, with ample funding from Olin and other conservative foundations, Murray succeeded in shifting the debate over America’s poor from society’s shortcoming to their own.” 

The Olin Foundation did not just spend its money on publishing books and supporting professors. One of their most successful beachheads went under the name of Law and Economics (L&E). Mayer’s description of L&E goes like this,  

“Following Piereson’s cautious playbook, the program’s title conveyed no ideology. Law and Economics stresses the need to analyze laws, including government regulations, not just for their fairness but also for their economic impact. Its proponents describe it in apolitical terms as bringing “efficiency” and “clarity” to the law, rather than relying on fuzzy, hard-to-quantify concepts like social justice.” 

She then states,  

“Piereson, however, admitted that the beauty of the program was that it was a stealth political attack and that the country’s best law schools didn’t grasp this and therefore didn’t block the ideological punch it packed. ‘I saw it as a way into the law schools – I probably shouldn’t confess that,’ he told the New York Times in 2005. ‘Economics analysis tends to have a conservatizing effect.” 

As you would expect, adding economics to any decision will sway the final decision towards favoring Big Money. A legal decision in favor of worker rights cannot help but cost the company money unless we have to consider the economic impact of that decision. Then, undoubtedly, some, or all, of the damage to the employer will be mitigated and the worker once again gets shafted of his full rights in favor of greater profits for somebody else.  

Mayer says that Law and economics was originally the purview of the libertarian fringe, but then the Olin Foundation spent $68 million funding its growth. She writes,  

“…the Olin Foundation underwrote 83 percent of the costs for all Law and Economics programs in American law schools between the years of 1985 and 1989. Overall, it scattered more than $10 million to Harvard, $7 million to Yale and Chicago, and over $2 million to Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown and the University of Virginia.” 

Mayer points out that “Olin fellows in Law and Economics, meanwhile began to beat a path to the top of the legal profession, winning Supreme Court clerkships at a rate of approximately one a year, starting in 1985.” The unfortunate part is that many of the adherents to L&E were not conservative. Rather they were people who had been taught a conservative philosophy without being told it was a conservative philosophy, and they were changing the prevailing culture unknowingly.  

There was a reaction to L&E. Mayer writes,  

“As Law and Economics spread, underwritten at each step by the Olin Foundation and other conservative backers including the Kochs and Scaife, liberal critics became alarmed. The Alliance for Justice, a liberal nonprofit in Washington, published a critical report in 1993 warning that ‘a small wealthy group’ was trying to ‘fundamentally alter the way that justice is dispensed in our country.’ It revealed that the Olin Foundation was paying students thousands of dollars to take classes in Law and Economics at Georgetown Law School. Despite the ethically dubious situation, only one law school, at the University of California in Los Angeles, turned the Olin funds away, arguing that by plying students with grant money, the foundation was ‘taking advantage of students’ financial need to indoctrinate them with a particular ideology.” 

Let us go back to Piereson for a moment. Mayer says that Piereson commented in an interview that he would have preferred to fund a program on constitutional law, but that a conservative approach to that subject would never have been accepted by universities at the time. Right-wing supporters will read the above statement and take it as proof of the monolithic, orthodoxy of the US school systems. It is not my goal to argue politics here. Their point may or may not be valid. But I do want to point out the serious moral flaw in what Big Money has done. To get their point across, Big Money is perfectly free to give interviews in the media, go on TV, organize protests, pigeon-hole politicians in the hallway of Congress, or stand on street corners and make speeches. That is their first amendment right, and it is fair and honest because they are directly addressing the situation. What is wrong in the situation that Mayer has presented us is Big Money’s use of its money to influence people into following their point of view without telling them that is what they are doing. Now we have a situation where the billionaires’ money is talking not the billionaires themselves, and the billionaires’ money is not being particularly honest about what its goals really are.  

Mayer tells us that the Olin Foundation, and those that imitated them, were not content with just publishing books and changing university curriculums. They went after established judges as well. She tells us that the Olin Foundation held two-week-long, all-expense-paid retreats for sitting judges at world class resorts where the judges attended seminars and spent their time golfing and eating first class meals. Mayer writes,  

“Within a few years, 660 judges had gone on these junkets, some like the U.S. Court of Appeals judge and unconfirmed Supreme Court nominee Douglas Ginsburg, many times. By one count, 40 percent of the federal judiciary participated, including the future Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas.” 

Again, you can argue the First Amendment and that it is the personal responsibility of those who attended these affairs to accept or reject the information there. However, human beings being what they are, the likelihood that some of those 660 judges were influenced by the trappings of wealth and its implication of influence accepted the libertarian views presented simply because of their surroundings is pretty high. In Bader Ginsburg’s case they failed, but in how many others did they succeed not through the strength of their arguments but because of the power of their money? Mayre writes,  

“A variety of major corporation eagerly joined Olin and other conservative foundations in footing the bills. A study by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity found that between 2008 and 2012 close to 185 federal judges attended judicial seminars sponsored by conservative interests, several of which had cases before the courts. The lead underwriters were the Charles Koch Foundation, the Searle Freedom Trust, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and State Farm Insurance company. Topics ranged from the ‘Moral Foundations of Capitalism’ to ‘Terrorism, Climate and Central Planning: Challenges to Liberty and the Rule of Law.'” 

Aside from sponsoring professors, fields of study, and publishing books, the Olin Foundation provided $5.5 million to start up the Federalist Society. There were also contributions from foundations tied to Scaife, the Kochs, and other conservative legacies.  

Mayer writes,  

“…the Federalist Society grew from a pipe dream shared by three rag-tag law students into a powerful professional network of forty-two thousand right-leaning lawyers, with 150 law school campus chapters and about seventy-five lawyers’ groups nationally. All the conservative justices on the Supreme Court are members as are the former vice president Dick Cheney, the former attorneys general Edwin Meese and John Ashcroft and numerous members of the federal bench.” 

John Olin died in 1982. At his direction, after his death, the Olin Foundation was directed to spend itself out of existence. That process was done in 2005. It only took 23 years to spend all of Olin’s “donated” money. According to Mayer, Olin’s fear was that liberals would take control of what he had built. As we have seen, the Olin Foundation supported authors who wrote books of dubious scholarship that were politically useful in Big Money’s fight for free markets, and fewer governmental protections. The Olin Foundation also conducted a covert operation to change the way that jurisprudence is taught in the United States when they introduced Law and Economics, which introduced economic impact as a consideration when establishing justice. Disguised as a non-ideological and nonpartisan addition to jurisprudence L&E played in favor of Big Money because any social justice decision that costs any company or corporation money could be labeled as a bad decision regardless of the human morality of the situation.  

The Olin Foundation also started the Federalist Society, a professional association of lawyers who advocate, checking federal power, protecting individual liberty and interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning. Furthermore, the Federalist Society plays a central role in networking and mentoring young conservative lawyers, and according to Amanda Hollis-Brusky, the author of Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution, the Federalist Society “has evolved into the de facto gatekeeper for right-of-center lawyers aspiring to government jobs and federal judgeships under Republican presidents.” William & Mary Law School professor Neil Devins and Ohio State University professor Lawrence Baum, the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush “aimed to nominate conservative judges, and membership in the Federalist Society was a proxy for adherence to conservative ideology.” And finally, the Federalist Society has played a key role in suggesting judicial nominees to President Donald Trump and it vetted our president’s list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees and, as of March 2020, 43 out of 51 of President Trump’s appellate court nominees were current or former members of the society. Speaking of the Federalist Society  

Mayer quotes Eugene B. Meyer, son of a founding editor of National Review who acknowledged that without Olin Foundation funding “[the Federalist Society] possibly wouldn’t exist at all.” The Olin Foundation staff, according to Mayer, described the Federalist Society as “one of the best investments the foundation every made.” 

The Bradley Brothers 

In 1903, Lynde and Harry Bradley went into business in Milwaukee Ohio. Their business eventually became the Allen-Bradley Company, a leading electronic component manufacturer. In 1985, Allen-Bradley was bought by Rockwell for $1.65 billion. So, the Bradley brothers established an enduring fortune.  

The Bradley foundation was started in 1942. The elder brother, Lynde, died in 1942. The younger brother, Harry, survived until 1965. Current estimates are that the Bradley Foundation has $893 million in assets (28.3 years).  

Harry Bradley was an avid supporter of the John Birch Society, which has been discussed in part one. According to Mayer,  

“Bradley also was a devoted follower of Dr. Fredreick Schwarz, a melodramatically anti-Communist physician from Australia who had converted to Christianity from Judaism, and who stumped across the heartland for his Christian Anti-Communism Crusade preaching that ‘Karl Marx was a Jew,’ and ‘like most Jews he was short and ugly and lazy and slovenly and had no desire to go out and work for a living,’ but also possessed ‘a superior, evil intellect like most Jews.'” 

I tried to find some objective evaluation of the Bradley Foundation and found this on the Influencewatch website.  

“The Bradley Foundation’s grantmaking is generally policy-oriented and center-right, with grant support covering almost the entire range of issue areas. Of the top policy-oriented foundations in the United States that were categorized as “center-right” by the Manhattan Institute for a March 2017 report, Bradley was the fourth-largest as measured by grants paid in 2014, behind the Walton Family Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.” 

Influencewatch is owned by the Captial Research Center, which is partially funded by the Bradley Foundation, and Manhattan Institute, whose report is cited, is also partially funded by the Bradley Foundation. So, the chances that either of these sources were going to be critical of the Bradley Foundation seem pretty small. Still, there are only two facts here; the Bradley Foundation is center-right, and the Bradley Foundation is fourth-largest. Center-right is a subjective evaluation, so we are not required to believe it, and fourth-largest is really not that important considering how much money it has to work with. If the Bradley Foundation was third, it would have more money, and if it was fifth it would have less, but the amounts are so large it does not really make a difference. So, I’ll take this evaluation at face value until I learn differently.  

When the Olin Foundation spent itself out of business, the Bradley Foundation took its place with assets of $290 million. Mayer tells us that Michael Joyce was the leading Olin staffer who moved to the Bradley Foundation to direct things. Before Joyce took over the Bradley Foundation’s mission was to help needy employees, the residence of Milwaukee, and prevent cruelty to animals. Joyce was brought over and the mission changed. Mayer says the new mission was “to support limited, competent government, a dynamic marketplace and vigorous defense.” After Joyce’s takeover of the Bradley Foundation, Mayer describes it like this,  

“It was small in comparison with older research foundations like the Ford Foundation, but unlike Ford, under Joyce’s direction Bradely regarded itself as a righteous combatant in an ideological war, giving it a single-minded focus. At least two-thirds of its grants, according to one analysis, financed conservative intellectual activity. It paid for some six hundred graduate and post graduate fellowships, right-wing think tanks, conservative journals, activists fighting Communism abroad, and its own publishing house, Encounter Books. Continuing the strategic emphasis on prestigious schools, the foundation gave both Harvard and Yale $5.5 million during the first decade of Joyce’s management. The Bradley foundation virtually drove the early national “school choice” movement, waging an all-out assault on teacher’s unions and traditional public schools. In an effort to “wean” Americans from government, the foundation militated for parents to be able to use public funds to send their children to private and parochial schools.” 

Under Joyce’s direction the Bradley Foundation took over many of the Olin Foundations old academic organizations including programs at many of the same colleges and universities. Mayer paraphrases Bruce Murphy in Milwaukee Magazine like this,  

“Typically, it was not just the same university but the same department, and in some cases the same scholar, [which] led to a kind of ‘intellectual cronyism’ The anointed scholars were good ideological warriors but ‘rarely great scholars’ [Murphy] wrote. For instance, Joyce stuck with Murphy in the face of growing controversy over his 1994 book, “The Bell Curve,” which correlated race and low IQ scores to argue that [African Americans] were less likely than [Caucasian Americans] to join the ‘cognitive elite,’ and was loudly and convincingly discredited.” 

What everybody missed about the Bradley Foundation was that it was promoting the idea of small government while living off of government funds. Allen-Bradley was started in 1903 by Dr. Stanton Allen and Lynde Bradley as an electronics manufacturing firm. Mayer summarizes Allen-Bradley’s development like this, 

“…it grew from making rheostats to many other kinds of industrial controls, particularly for the radio, machine tools and auto industries. The business had “teetered on the edge of solvency” until the Unites States entered World War I, according to a history by Milwaukee historian John Gurda that was commissioned and published by the Bradley Foundation. But thanks to government defense contracts, which accounted for 70 percent of the company’s business, orders increased tenfold over six years, and the company was, according to Gurda, “launched.” World War II proved even more of a boon. Gurda describes its impact on the company “staggering.” By 1944, government war work accounted for nearly 80 percent of the company’s orders. Its business volume more than tripled during World War II.” 

Mayer tells us that in 1985 Allen-Bradley was purchased by Rockwell International for $1.6 billion. At that point, she says, “two-thirds of Rockwell’s revenues and half of its profits, came from U.S. government contracts” and Rockwell had become a poster child for wasteful government spending. The immediate result for the Bradley Foundation was that its funding jumped from $14 million to $290 million. 

Earlier, Mayer told us that there are very few rules controlling private foundations, and 95% of their balance can be spent anyway the owner wants. So, in 1985 Rockwell donates $276 million to the Bradley Foundation and ultimately made it self-sufficient. Mayer writes,  

“Thanks to smart investments, [the Bradley Foundation’s] assets ballooned, enabling it to finance a movement that ascribed poverty to dependence on government handouts, not to the trade, labor, and industrial policies that had resulted in American jobs, such as those at Allen-Bradley, getting shipped overseas. By 2012, the Bradley Foundation’s assets had reached more than $630 million, enabling it to dole out more than $32 million in grants during that year alone. The funds continued to finance welfare reform initiatives that required the Poor to find jobs, as well as attacks on public schools. The foundation also continued to support conservative beachheads in thirty-five different elite colleges and universities including Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford.” 

The Koch Brothers 

In the mid 80s, the Kochs established their beachhead at George Mason University, the Mercatus Center. It was a privately funded, “conservative” think tank attached to a public university. Charles Koch was the largest supporter giving approximately $30 million. Speaking of the Mercatus Center, Mayer writes, “…it touted itself, somewhat misleadingly, as ‘the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas – bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.” 

Clayton Coppin, who we learned earlier wrote confidential history of David and Charles’ political activities happened to be a professor at George Mason. Mayer says that Coppin described Mercatus outright as  

“… a lobbying group disguised as a disinterested academic program.’ The arrangement, he points out, had financial advantages for the Kochs because it enabled Charles ‘to have a tax deduction for financing a group, which for all practical purposes is a lobbying group for his corporate interests.” 

As you can imagine, because of Koch involvement in the university George Mason’s economics department became a hotbed of controversial economic theories that began to transform the tax code. Mayer points out that Paul Craige Roberts, an adjunct professor at GMU, drafted the pre-cursor to the first supply-side tax cut bill of the Reagan era, which benefited the wealthy so tremendously. She also tells us that James Buchanan was on the faculty when he won the Nobel Prize for Economics for his Public Choice Theory that reduces human beings to nothing more that self-interested automatons and our governments to nothing more than inefficient purveyors of market goods. 

According to Mayer,  

“By 2004, the Wall Street Journal dubbed [the Mercatus Center] the most important think tank you never heard of and noted that fourteen of the twenty-three regulations that President George W. Bush placed on a hit list had been suggested by Mercatus scholars.” 

She then goes on to tell us that 8 of the 14 regulations to be struck down were environmental protections, which drive up costs but protect human beings. Mayer describes university beachheads like this,  

“You take corporate money and give it to a neutral-sounding think tank, which hires people with pedigrees and academic degrees who put out credible-seeming studies. But they all coincide perfectly with the economic interests of the funders.” 

We do not have to take her at her word. She gives examples.  

“In 1997, for instance, the EPA moved to reduce surface ozone, a form of air pollution caused, in part, by emissions from oil refineries. Susan Dudley an economist who became a top official at the Mercatus Center, came up with a novel criticism of the proposed rule. The EPA, she argued, had not taken into account that by blocking the sun, smog cut down on cases of skin cancer. She claimed that if pollution was controlled, it would cause up to eleven thousand additional cases of skin cancer a year.” 

There are a great many things wrong with this argument. First, it puts individual benefits over benefits for the community and planet. I am sure libertarians would rejoice at the curtailing of government protections that have the happy benefit of protecting individuals from cancer, but let us look at the communal effects. Multi-billion, multi-national corporations get to make more money at the expense of the public health of the majority. Eleven thousand cancer cases versus global warming of the planet, which will affect billions, I will protect the billions.  

Second, if we were to fall into the libertarian rabbit hole presented to us, what about people suffering from respiratory problems caused by smog? Which group is hurt more by ozone protections; those who cannot breathe or those who will get skin cancer? Which group is bigger? Which group has more grassroots political organization? Which group has more money and therefore more political clout? While we answer those questions, we will do nothing out of the fear of doing the wrong thing and making people angry. My guess is that Big Money will spend some cash and front groups will appear lobbying for the repeal of protections on the basis of future cancer victims. But again, we are ignoring the benefit given to billions by putting protections in place.  

Third, the role of government is to protect the common good. Now this is one of those tricky moral decisions that can end up making people mad when they do not get what they want. Never mind that skin cancer is easily preventable, government should do what is best for the majority of its citizens. And the truth is that expanding EPA ozone protections would benefit not just the people of the United States, but the people of the world by slowing global warming.  

I think libertarians, because they do not want to belong to a community, present these silly selfish counterarguments as a way of confusing the issue. It is up to us to stay the course, and reject them. 

Mayer writes,  

“In 1999, the District of Columbia Circuit Court embraced Dudley’s pro-smog argument. Evaluating the EPA rule, the court found that the EPA had ‘explicitly disregarded’ the ‘possible health benefits of ozone.’ In another part of the opinion, the court also rules, 2-1, that the EPA had overstepped its authority.” 

According to Mayer, a watchdog group, the Constitutional Accountability Center, later found that the judges in the majority had attended one of the Koch foundations all-expense-paid legal seminars. They, of course, denied being influenced, and they were overruled by the Supreme Court. I believe that it is situations like these that started the libertarian Republican Party to think about gaining more control over the US judicial system.  

Enron 

You would not think of it by yourself, but Mayer tells us that Mercatus was involved in the Enron Scandal. Wendy Gramm, the wife of Senator Phil Gramm, was the head of Mercatus’ Regulatory Studies Program in the mid 90s. She was instrumental in pushing what came to be called the Enron loophole through Congress. This legislative exemption prevented energy derivatives (a kind of stock traded on Wall Street) from being regulated by the government. It just so happened that Charles Koch traded energy derivatives quite heavily, so it seems rather natural that his think tank attached to a public university would be arguing against regulation of these stocks. According to Mayer, “Koch claimed there was no need for government policing because corporation’s concern for their reputations would cause them to self-regulate.” 

Enron was a major political scandal in the 90s and 00s, but it was not all bad according to Mayer,  

in 2001, Enron collapsed in a heap of bogus financial statements and fraudulent accounting practices. But Wendy Gramm had pocketed up to $1.8 million from Enron the year after arguing for the loophole. And it emerged that before going under, Enron had made substantial campaign contributions to Senator Gramm, while its chairman, Kenneth Lay, had given money to the Mercatus Center.” 

In fact, according to Mayer,  

“George Mason was the Kochs’ largest libertarian academic project but far from the only one. By 2015, according to an internal list, the Charles Koch Foundation was subsidizing pro-business, antiregulatory, and antitax programs in 307 different institutions of higher education in America and had plans to expand into 18 more. The schools ranged from cash-hungry West Virginia University to Brown University where the Kochs, in the tradition of the Olin Foundation, established an Ivy League “beachhead.” 

“…John Hardin, director of university relations at the Charles Koch Foundation, argues that their grants are bringing ideological diversity and debate to campuses.” 

I am a man of modest means from Indiana. If I went to Indiana University and convinced them to teach some favored idea of mine, I have indeed brough ideological diversity and debate to IU’s campus. What Big Money has done is something different because of the scale. Mayer has told us that Charles Koch was pushing pro-business, antiregulatory, and antitax programs in 325 schools. She does not tell us how many schools Scaife reached, or any of the other millionaires and billionaires who followed Olin’s lead.  

We know that the Olin Foundation funded 11 programs in Harvard University and 88 fellowships. It gave grants to authors of right-wing books that supported their agenda, and sponsored judicial junkets for sitting federal judges. The Olin Foundation also covertly introduced right-wing ideas into university curriculums with Law and Economics, stressed including economic impact when making legal decisions. That idea can only sway judicial decisions in the direction of Big Money. And the Olin Foundation started the Federalist Society, which has become the only way to get federal judgeship.  

Mayer’s book is even handed and fair. She does not use manipulative names or denigrate the people she’s writing about, and she keeps her opinions to herself. I’m presenting her information as accurately as I can because I think that too many of us have no idea about who or what is guiding US politics. I disapprove of libertarian ideas. I think they’re dangerous and can only lead to oppression and anarchy. Mayer has not said anything about this so far, but what is appalling is the coordinated, comprehensive way that Big Money has been working to change US society since the 1980s! 

What Big Money did, and is doing, is oppressive and tyrannical, and a threat to our democracy. They have used their money to influence society to adopt philosophies and policies that are beneficial only to them. They have convinced common everyday people that Big Money’s interests in “freedom” and “liberty” will benefit them as well, which is a lie because Big Money has more money and therefore has more economic and political power than the common person.  

https://point434213800.wordpress.com/2019/10/09/how-democracies-die-the-abandonment-of-mutual-toleration-and-forbearance-in-us-politics/

﷟HYPERLINK “https://mises.org/library/intellectuals-and-socialism-0”https://mises.org/library/intellectuals-and-socialism-0  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://mises.org/profile/friedrich-hayek”Friedrich A. Hayek 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_E._Simon

﷟HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_F._Buckley_Jr”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_F._Buckley_Jr.  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firing_Line_(TV_program”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firing_Line_(TV_program)  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Closing_of_the_American_Mind”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Closing_of_the_American_Mind  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://thepointmag.com/criticism/the-closing-of-the-american-mind-allan-bloom/”https://thepointmag.com/criticism/the-closing-of-the-american-mind-allan-bloom/  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinesh_D%27Souza”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinesh_D%27Souza 

﷟HYPERLINK “https://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2297&context=mlr”https://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2297&context=mlr Review of Illiberal Education         

﷟HYPERLINK “https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=351428&rec=1&srcabs=186988.&pos=9”https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=351428&rec=1&srcabs=186988.&pos=9 critical review of More Guns, Less Crime 

﷟HYPERLINK “https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports”https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports Gun violence reports. 

﷟HYPERLINK “https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=372361&rec=1&srcabs=1338927.4&pos=2”https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=372361&rec=1&srcabs=1338927.4&pos=2  Rebuttal of above provided by American Enterprise Institute.  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports”https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports 

https://www.panna.org/resources/ddt-story

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT#Environmental_impact

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olin_Corporation

Dark Money: Weaponizing philanthropy: the war of ideas 1970-2008 (3/3)

Based on: Dark Money by Jane Mayer

Published 10/21/2020

Part 3/3 

Beachheads 

Despite his inherited wealth, John M. Olin regarded himself as a self-made man. Mayer says that the family wealth came from selling arms and explosives during WW I and WW II. In 1954, the company merges with a chemical company thereby doubling its size. Of the completely formed Olin company, Mayer says,  

“The conglomeration, whose revenues were half a billion dollars a year … made everything from pharmaceuticals in its Squibb division to cigarette papers. It manufactured Winchester rifles, and later, the hydrazine rocket fuel that powered Neil Armstrong’s 1969 lunar landing. 

According to Mayer, the official story about how Olin got involved in political activism is that Olin was on the Board of Trustees of Cornell University; his alma mater. In April of 1969, there was a student protest lead by African American students that became national news. Mayer describes the leader of the protest, calling himself The Minister of Defense, like this.  

“Strapped across his chest, Pancho Villa-style, was a sash-like Bandolier studded with bullet cartridges. Gripped nonchalantly in his right hand, with its butt resting on his hip, was a glistening rifle. Chin held high and sporting an Afro, goatee and eyeglasses reminiscent of Malcolm X, he was the face of a drama so infamous it was regarded for years by conservatives … as ‘the most disgraceful occurrence in the history of American education.’” 

The Minister of Defense’s photograph made national news, and was enough, according to Mayer, to make Olin stop donating to hospitals, museums and other more patrician causes. Instead, he embarked on a more radical from of philanthropy. Mayer says Olin directed his foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation founded in 1953, to fund an ambitious offensive to reorient the political slant of the higher education institutions in the United States. She writes,  

“By the time the John M. Olin Foundation spent itself out of existence in 2005, as called for in its founders will, it had spent about half of its assets of $370 million bankrolling the promotion of free-market ideology and other conservative ideas on the country’s campuses. In doing so, it molded and credentialed a whole new generation of conservative graduates and professors.” 

To give us some perspective on the achievements of the Olin Foundation Mayer quotes Olin’s biographer John Miller: “These efforts have been instrumental in challenging the campus left – or more specifically, the problem of radical activists gaining control of America’s colleges and universities.” 

Mayer, however, disagrees with the official story. Mayer says that the truth is that the change in direction began 4 years later in 1973. She points out that in 1973 the Olin Corporations was in a lot of trouble with a lot of governmental and private agencies over environmental controversies. Nixon signed the Environmental Protection Agency into existence in 1970, which discovered the dangers of DDT, a major Olin Corporation product. In addition, the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation were all began suing Olin Corporation over DDT. 

For those who have forgotten, or never knew, about DDT. The Pesticide Action Network says that DDT was initially used because it was very effective against insects. However, the human consequences of DDT proved to be severe as well. 

  • Breast and other cancers 
  • Male infertility 
  • Miscarriage and low birth weight 
  • Developmental delay 
  • Nervous system and live damage 

Wikipedia describes the environmental damage like this,  

“Because of its lipophilic properties, DDT can bioaccumulate, especially in predatory birds. DDT is toxic to a wide range of living organisms, including marine animals such as crayfish, daphnids, sea shrimp and many species of fish. DDT, DDE and DDD magnify through the food chain, with apex predators such as raptor birds concentrating more chemicals than other animals in the same environment. They are stored mainly in body fat. DDT and DDE are resistant to metabolism; in humans, their half-lives are 6 and up to 10 years, respectively. In the United States, these chemicals were detected in almost all human blood samples tested by the Centers for Disease Control in 2005, though their levels have sharply declined since most uses were banned. Estimated dietary intake has declined, although FDA food tests commonly detect it.” 

Imagine, a pesticide that was banned in 1970 is still in our food supply today. If you look at the CDC’s descriptions of DDT, after 4 years of our corporate friendly, democratically irresponsible president, you find a very much sanitized version of the dangers. I quoted sources that coincided with what I remembered from my youth.  

Mayer tells us “The company fought a losing battle against the government over DDT both because of the pollutants created by its manufacture and the poisonous nature of the DDT itself.” As you can imagine the court battle lasted for years. However, Mayer says, “Eventually, the Olin Corporation and three of its former corporate officers were convicted of falsifying records in [a] dumping case, after which the presiding judge imposed the maximum available fine of $700,000 on the company.” 

Saltville Virginia was another big environmental problem for one of Olin Corporation’s chemical plants. Saltville was the typical company town where the only job in town was in the factory. Olin Corporation ran all the grocery stores, the water system, the sewer system, the only school, and it owned all the housing; just like in the company owned coal mining towns that Unites States labor unions worked so hard to liberate in the 1930s. Workers at Olin’s chemical plant ended up giving all their wages back to the company paying for living expenses.  

The environmental problem in Saltville was mercury, which Mayer says was found as far as 80 miles downriver from the plant. In fact, Mayer tells us that the problem was so bad that Saltville Virginia became the EPA’s first Superfund cleanup site. The situation is that the chemical wastes from Olin’s manufacturing process are stored in extremely large holding ponds, and those chemicals were leaking out and contaminating local ground water, soil, and the nearby river. Those wastes are industrially useless, so they cannot be recycled in anyway, and they are toxic to animals and humans. Since there is no way to get rid of these wastes, the only thing that the EPA can do is make sure that the Olin Corporation makes the necessary repairs and/or changes to keep the waste in the ponds.

So, here is the Olin Corporation being forced by the EPA to do the socially responsible thing; protecting the local inhabitants from its manufacturing wastes. I don’t know what the yearly outlay is to comply with EPA directives, but it does not really matter. As a citizen of the United States, I see no reason why the inhabitants of Saltville should be left to deal with cancers, or other illness, because a corporation wanted to make a profit. In 2010, Citizen United forced us to consider corporations as people. Fine. It is a terrible idea, but for now we are stuck with it. In the meantime, they had better be good people with a social conscious, and clean up their messes. Of course, from Olin’s point of view the jobs he created, and the chemicals he produced are a substantial contribution to US society, and being forced to be the permanent caretaker of toxic waste seems like a bit much; especially since it will cost money forever. Does not the “Right” that insists on personal responsibility above everything?

 Mayer interviewed former Olin Foundation officials about the company’s environmental record. She writes,  

“Former officials at the Olin Foundation, when asked about the company’s ignominious environmental record, downplay any link to the nonprofit’s pro-corporate, antiregulatory ideology. ‘It is possible that Mr. Olin as influenced to some degree by litigation and regulations against the company,’ says James Piereson, the conservative scholar, who was executive director and trustee of the Olin Foundation from 1985 to 2005. ‘But that would be one factor among many others; and he was no longer running the company on a day to day basis by this time.’ He added, ‘There were a lot of cross currents in the air: The Cold War, détente, Watergate, inflation, a stock market crash, war in the Middle East, Vietnam, environmentalism, feminism.” 

I regard Pierson’s statements as disingenuous. In 1973, Olin, who was born in 1892, was 81 years old and only had 9 more years to live. He died in 1982. People in their eighties still have sharp minds, and a person with Olin’s wealth would be perfectly happy to live the life he chose while delegating responsibility to others. It would not be a requirement that Olin work day to day to achieve his goal. More importantly, government protections increase corporate costs and responsibilities. From Olin’s point of view a “pro-corporate, antiregulatory ideology” would make perfect sense. As we saw in part 2, the present day purpose of private foundations is to influence politics in favor of Big Money.  

Having given us a more probable reason for Olin to begin on his chosen philanthropic path, Mayer tells us the story of how Olin came to choose this path. She tells us that his first steps were the normal ones for the time.  

“To fight back against the social pressures that were forcing his businesses to behave as thought they were part of society, Olin started by donating to already established conservative entities; the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Hoover Foundation, but soon focused on academia.” 

Pointing to Olin’s frame of mind, Mayer tells us about a private letter he wrote to the President of Cornell University.  

“‘It matters little to me whether the economic development is classified as Marxism, Keynesianism, or whatnot.’ He said he regarded ‘liberalism’ and ‘socialism’ as ‘synonymous.’ All of these academic trends, he asserted, needed ‘very serious study and correction.'” 

I guess when millions of dollars of profit are at stake the vast distinctions between liberalism and socialism are not important. I find this level of closed-mindedness astonishing, and I am at a loss to explain it. It has been my experience that social media “conservatives” reject any and all philosophical distinctions that might change their point of view from black and white to grey. I think they reject nuance out of the fear of finding out that the world is not how they perceive it. In part 2, Scaife’s friend pointed out that he thought that Scaife’s unexplainable turnaround about Hillary Clinton was the result of his finally stepping out of his bubble. He met Hillary and changed his mind about her. If Scaife’s bubble was created by his wealth, why would Olin be any different? Big Money’s money protects it from all of life’s dangers and pitfalls, and its members have lived lives of single-minded focus and ambition as they managed and grew their fortunes. So, anything that restricts their financial movements is bad and anything that eases their burdens is good. The suffering of their workers does not enter into their thinking because they are concerned with “larger issues,” growing a multi-million-dollar, multinational corporation into something even larger never mind the human cost.  

Mayer states that Frank O’Connell, the Olin’s labor lawyer, was given the job of figuring out how to influence universities. He talked to the Koch and Scaife foundations, and was given a reading list that included Fredrick Hayek’s essay “The Intellectual and Socialism,” which was written in 1949. There is a link below if you care to read it for yourself. Hayek’s goal at the time was to argue against the spread of socialism, which was a major topic after WW II and during the Cold War.  

Mayer has shown how Olin’s definition of socialism was so expansive, and it is reasonable to assume that the rest of Big Money feels the same, or they would not have adopted libertarianism and spent so much sustained time and effort to change the country in their favor. However, before you get to socialism, you first have to have a social consciousness, and these people are so rooted in their individual needs, wants, and desires that they see nothing wrong with anything they do.  

Mayer continues to trace the development of the Olin Foundation’s self-interested philanthropy by telling us that Willam Simon was hired to run the foundation in 1977. Mayer writes,  

“Simon had been energy czar and treasury secretary under presidents Nixon and Ford and was a famously intemperate critic of those he called ‘stupid.’ This very large category included liberals, radicals, and moderate members of his own Republican Party. Like Olin, he was incensed by the expansion of the regulatory state.” 

“In his 1978 manifesto, “A Time for Truth, he wrote, ‘Since the 60s, the vast bulk of regulatory legislation passed by Congress … [has] been largely initiated by a powerful new lobby that goes by the name of the Public Interest movement.’ Simon disparaged these ‘college-educated idealists’ who claimed to be working for the ‘wellbeing of consumers, the environment, minorities and other nonmaterial causes, accusing them of wanting to ‘expand police powers of the state over American producers.’ He challenged their purity. Noting that they claimed to care little for money, he accused them of being driven by another kind of self-interest. Quoting his colleague Irving Krystol, the neoconservative intellectual, he charged that these usurpers wanted ‘the power to shape our civilization.’ That power, he argued, should belong exclusively to ‘the free market.'” 

Let us talk about the phrase “the power to shape our civilization” for a moment. As we have seen, Big Money thinks that creating jobs and making profits is enough to make them the good guys of society. They disavow the environmental damage caused by manufacturing and feel that making them responsible for their excess is impugning their freedom. Libertarianism, as practiced by self-interested billionaires, is selfish in nature. It allows people to pick and choose who or what they are going to respond to because, according to libertarian theory, none of us has mandate over anybody. So, as an example, when a child is asked to clean his room, his parents have no authority to make him do so. Or, when a federal government demands that a multinational corporation be responsible or its industrial waste, again, to a libertarian, the federal government has no moral authority to force its will on others.  

What libertarians in general have missed is that in a situation where nobody has to work together with anybody it is the most powerful who always get their way. Libertarianism gives free license to Big Money to do as it pleases and, in the process, “shape our civilization” to its liking. Social justice issues like economic equality, public health, long-term environmental degradation cannot produce profit, so they are pushed to the side. For example, to increase profits all businesses spend a great deal of time and effort on reducing costs. Labor costs are major expense and yet labor costs also assure a decent standard of living of the business’s workers. Poor businesses cut wages in the hopes of staying alive. Rich businesses keep wages low to increase profit. The result of low wages can be housing insecurity and starvation. Perhaps you remember the scandal of Walmart employees who could not survive on their wages alone and needed government assistance. As to long-term environmental degradation, the way to prevent it is to make a conscious decision that, for example, CO2 is bad and we need to eliminate it. But there’s no profit in a decision only increased costs. Business like to say that somehow in the future someone will invent a technology that will save us. He will then be able to sell that technology and make money. Technologies that reduce CO2 exist, but they cost money and have to be installed to work, and Big Money will not get involved because of reduced profits. Business will not be socially conscious unless the federal government is there to push them.  

So, when Simon says, “college-educated idealists” who claimed to be working for the ‘wellbeing of consumers, the environment, minorities and other nonmaterial causes,” are “expand[ing] police powers of the state over American producers” he is arguing for the ability to make profit unlimited by a social conscious.  

Both Pierson and Simon believed that only an ideological battle could save the country, and their strategy for starting the ideological battle they called beachhead theory. According to Mayer, Simon thought,  

“‘[It] can be organized to challenge our ruling ‘new-class’ — opinion makers,’ Simon wrote. ‘Ideas are weapons – indeed the only weapons with which other ideas can be fought.’ He argued, ‘Capitalism has no duty to subsidized its enemies.’ Private and corporate foundations, he said, must cease the mindless subsidizing of colleges and universities whose departments of politics, economic and history are hostile to capitalism.’ Instead, they ‘must take pains to funnel desperately needed funds to scholars, social scientists, and writers who understand the relationship between political and economic liberty,’ as he put it. ‘They must be given grants, grants, and more grants in exchange for books, book, and more books.'” 

Mayer shows us Pierson’s point of view next. Pierson thought the key,  

“was to fund the conservative intelligentsia in such a way that it would not ‘raise questions about academic integrity.’ Instead of trying to earmark a chair or dictate a faculty appointment, both of which he noted were bound to ‘generate fierce controversy,’ he suggested that conservative donors look for like-minded members whose influence could be enlarged by outsized funding. In time, such a professor could administer an expanded program. But Piereson warned that it was ‘essential for the integrity and reputation of the programs that they be defined not by ideological points of view.’ To overtly acknowledge ‘pre-ordained conclusions’ would doom a program. Instead of saying the program was designed to ‘demonstrate the falsity of Marxism’ or to promote ‘free enterprise,’ he advised that it was better to ‘define programs in terms of fields of study, [like the] John M. Olin Fellowship in Military History.’ He wrote, ‘Often a program can be given a philosophical or principled identity by giving it the name of an important historical figure, such as the James Madison Program [in] American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.'” 

The Olin Foundation invested in William F. Buckley’s television show Firing Line, which ran for 33 years and was the longest running public affairs TV show. It ran from 1966 to 1999. Mayer does not give us any indication as to how much the foundation invested or for how long they were invested in the show. Here is a link to a YouTube video of a discussion between Buckley and Noam Chomsky.  

 Noam Chomsky vs. William F Buckley on the Vietnam War- The Complete Interview  

The Olin Foundation also, according to Mayer, supported Allan Bloom while he wrote “The Closing of the American Mind” in 1987. In this book, according to Wikipedia,  

“the author criticizes the “openness” of relativism, in academia and society in general, as leading paradoxically to the great “closing” referenced in the book’s title. In Bloom’s view, “openness” and absolute understanding undermine critical thinking and eliminate the “point of view” that defines cultures. The book became an unexpected best seller, eventually selling close to half a million copies in hardback, but drew divided reactions from reviewers.” 

My reading of that description presents a man who is worried that the Caucasian American, Christian culture is going to have to make room for other peoples and ideas. Your may be different.  

In 2017, Jacob Hamburger of Point Magazine wrote,  

“For Bloom, the countercultural movements of the Sixties had perverted the meaning of liberty—by expanding it. Not only did students now come to college to enjoy the freedom of philosophical exploration; they came just as much to be released from traditional restrictions on sex and most other social ‘vices.’ This new ‘liberation,’ Bloom claimed, did more harm than good, destroying old social norms without putting anything in their place.” 

The foundation also supported Dinesh D’Souza the author of “Illiberal Education” published in 1991. Whatever you may think of Illiberal Education as a book, if you follow D’Souza’s career, aside from a felony conviction, you’ll find a series of books with theses that get more and more outlandish and are more and more heavily criticized by commentators on both the “Left” and the “Right.” Here is a link to a review written in 1992 and published in the Michigan University Law Review.  

In addition to supporting right-wing authors, the Olin Foundation funded professors at leading universities all over the country, including, as Mayer tells us, “Harvard’s Harvey C. Mansfield and Samuel P. Huntington. It donated $3.3 million to Mansfield’s Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard, which emphasized a conservative interpretation of American government, and the foundation donated $8.4 million to Huntington’s John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, which inculcated a hawkish approach to foreign policy and national security.” In fact, Mayer says that “By the time the Olin Foundation closed its doors in 2005, they were supporting 11 different programs at Harvard.” 

Mayer states that “Between 1990 and 2001, fifty-six of the eighty-eight Olin fellows at the Harvard program continued on to teach at the University of Chicago, Cornell, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Harvard, MIT, Penn and Yale.” Furthermore, Mayer states that, “The foundation also doled out $8 million to over a hundred John M. Olin faculty fellows, which allowed them to research and publish.” 

University professors live and die by their ability to publish. The more you publish the further your career goes. However, if you publish through the university system you work has to be reviewed by other members of your department or other professors in your field. The Olin faculty fellows did not have to go through peer review. They wrote their books, handed them in, and Olin published them through commercial publishing houses.  

Peer review can be seen as a double-edged sword. Many will look at the process as the enforcement of academic orthodoxy. However, one of the foundations of a university is openness; the idea that any point of view that can be defended adequately is valid. The foundational issue here is trust.   

The other side of things is that peer review ensures that anything that is published is adequately researched, and written in a way that demonstrates impartiality. What is wrong with what the Olin Foundation, and others did, was they hired people to write the book that said what they wanted people to hear, published them with no restrictions. 

If your book is rejected under peer review, you have two choices. You can rage against the machine and see yourself as a victim, or you can reevaluate your position in the light of the reviewer’s criticisms and move on. You are, of course, free to take you book to a commercial publishing house, but be warned, academic books are extremely hard to get published that way. The modern reader does not have the time or patience to wade through a lot of historical data and evaluate the conclusion. They want to be entertained. You know, like on TV. However, with the multimillion-dollar Olin Foundation behind you publishing is be a lot easier.  

John Miller wrote an authorized biography of Olin that was published in 2003. Mayer quotes him as writing, “a small handful of foundations have essentially provided the conservative movement with its venture capital.” By venture capital he means politcally useful ideas. He then went on to write, “…conservative ideas are in broad circulations, and many believe they are now ascendant.” 

At this point in her book, Mayer gives us several more examples of books sponsored by the Olin Foundation. The authors are all academics of some sort or other, but the work they produced is of questionable quality. 

More Guns, Less Crime by John R. Lott Jr.: According to Wikipedia, Lott  

“is an American economist, political commentator, and gun rights advocate. Lott was formerly employed at various academic institutions including the University of Chicago, Yale University, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Maryland, College Park, and at the American Enterprise Institute conservative think tank. He is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, a nonprofit he founded in 2013. Lott holds a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA.” 

Lott argued that more guns actually reduced crime and the legalization of concealed weapons would make people safer. However, there was a problem with the book’s research. Mayer tells us,  

“Lott’s claimed source for this information was national surveys, which under questioning he revised to just one survey that he and his research assistant had conducted. When asked to provide the raw data, Lott claimed it has been lost in a computer crash.” 

Lott’s book, which flies in the face of common sense, serves a political purpose. It gives politicians justification for doing nothing in the face of gun violence. It also encourages gun owners the demand expanded rights in the name of “law and order” because the politicians have done nothing. Both of these things benefit gun manufacturers. The lack of political reaction to gun violence means that gun manufacturers are not hampered by suddenly imposed gun laws restricting manufacture or sales. It also means they can “push the fear button” and convince people that they should take justice in their own hands and buy a gun. Lott’s badly researched books was a corporate boon created by a libertarian philosophy pushed on us by Big Money.  

In the links below there is a critical review that shows why Lott is wrong written by Ian Ayers and John Donohue, and a rebuttal to that review provided by authors at the American Enterprise Institute; a prominent right-wing think tank. Ayers and Donohue state in their conclusion that they have been criticized for trying to use a statistical analysis to solve a social problem. To my mind that is a fair criticism. If you wish, you can wade through 148 pages of statistical analysis and try to decide who is right in the narrow case of the counties and states studied. This will not necessarily prove that Ayers and Donohue’s criticism is valid everywhere in the United States.  

All we really have to do is look at the rapidly escalating gun violence in the United States to see that neighbors are shooting neighbors, strangers are shooting strangers, and some are killing as many as they can. It should be painfully obvious to anybody looking at the United States as a whole that we are a very unhappy and divided people, and the last thing we need are more guns to vent our anger with. Below there is a link documenting gun violence in the US. In the case of guns, libertarian philosophies have been both deadly and profitable.  

The Real Anita Hill by David Brock: According to Wikipedia, Brock began his career as a conservative investigative journalist. At some point after this book, Brock changed his allegiance and began working for liberal and progressive causes. Wikipedia’s summary of the scandal is this,  

“In March 1992, in a 17,000-word article for The American Spectator, Brock challenged the claims of Anita Hill, who had accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Shortly thereafter Brock became a full-time staff member at that publication. (The American Spectator was owned by John Scraife at the time.) In 1993, Brock expanded his article into a book, The Real Anita Hill. Brock’s description of Hill in the book as ‘a bit nutty and a bit slutty’ was widely quoted.”  

The book became a best-seller. It was later attacked in a book review in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer, a reporter for The New Yorker, and Jill Abramson, who was at that time a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. The two later expanded their article into the book Strange Justice, which cast Anita Hill in a much more sympathetic light. It, too, was a best-seller. Brock replied to their book with a book review of his own in The American Spectator. (The American Spectator was owned by Scaife.) In that review, he asserted that Mayer and Abramson had no evidence to claim that Clarence Thomas was a habitual user of pornography. Later, in his book Blinded by the Right, he wrote, “When I wrote those words, I knew they were false. I put a lie in print.” 

Losing Ground by Charles Murray: Wikipedia describes Murray as  

“an American political scientist, writer, and public speaker. He is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. Murray’s work has been and remains highly controversial. The reason for the controversy, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center is he “[uses] racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor.” 

Mayer tells us that Murray worked at a Washington Beltway firm evaluating US government social programs before he became famous. In fact, he was thinking about writing a thriller novel when the Heritage Foundation placed an antiwelfare piece he had written in the Wall Street Journal. That brought him to the attention of the Olin Foundation who gave him a grant to work full-time on a book.  

This is what Mayer says about Murray’s book,  

“Losing Ground, which was written in a tone of sorrow rather than anger, blamed government programs for creating a culture of dependence among the poor. Critics said it overlooked macroeconomic issues over which the poor had no control, and academics and journalists were split, with several challenging Murray’s scholarship. Nonetheless, with ample funding from Olin and other conservative foundations, Murray succeeded in shifting the debate over America’s poor from society’s shortcoming to their own.” 

The Olin Foundation did not just spend its money on publishing books and supporting professors. One of their most successful beachheads went under the name of Law and Economics (L&E). Mayer’s description of L&E goes like this,  

“Following Piereson’s cautious playbook, the program’s title conveyed no ideology. Law and Economics stresses the need to analyze laws, including government regulations, not just for their fairness but also for their economic impact. Its proponents describe it in apolitical terms as bringing “efficiency” and “clarity” to the law, rather than relying on fuzzy, hard-to-quantify concepts like social justice.” 

She then states,  

“Piereson, however, admitted that the beauty of the program was that it was a stealth political attack and that the country’s best law schools didn’t grasp this and therefore didn’t block the ideological punch it packed. ‘I saw it as a way into the law schools – I probably shouldn’t confess that,’ he told the New York Times in 2005. ‘Economics analysis tends to have a conservatizing effect.” 

As you would expect, adding economics to any decision will sway the final decision towards favoring Big Money. A legal decision in favor of worker rights cannot help but cost the company money unless we have to consider the economic impact of that decision. Then, undoubtedly, some, or all, of the damage to the employer will be mitigated and the worker once again gets shafted of his full rights in favor of greater profits for somebody else.

Mayer says that Law and economics was originally the purview of the libertarian fringe, but then the Olin Foundation spent $68 million funding its growth. She writes,  

“…the Olin Foundation underwrote 83 percent of the costs for all Law and Economics programs in American law schools between the years of 1985 and 1989. Overall, it scattered more than $10 million to Harvard, $7 million to Yale and Chicago, and over $2 million to Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown and the University of Virginia.” 

Mayer points out that “Olin fellows in Law and Economics, meanwhile began to beat a path to the top of the legal profession, winning Supreme Court clerkships at a rate of approximately one a year, starting in 1985.” The unfortunate part is that many of the adherents to L&E were not conservative. Rather they were people who had been taught a conservative philosophy without being told it was a conservative philosophy, and they were changing the prevailing culture unknowingly.  

There was a reaction to L&E. Mayer writes,  

“As Law and Economics spread, underwritten at each step by the Olin Foundation and other conservative backers including the Kochs and Scaife, liberal critics became alarmed. The Alliance for Justice, a liberal nonprofit in Washington, published a critical report in 1993 warning that ‘a small wealthy group’ was trying to ‘fundamentally alter the way that justice is dispensed in our country.’ It revealed that the Olin Foundation was paying students thousands of dollars to take classes in Law and Economics at Georgetown Law School. Despite the ethically dubious situation, only one law school, at the University of California in Los Angeles, turned the Olin funds away, arguing that by plying students with grant money, the foundation was ‘taking advantage of students’ financial need to indoctrinate them with a particular ideology.” 

Let us go back to Piereson for a moment. Mayer says that Piereson commented in an interview that he would have preferred to fund a program on constitutional law, but that a conservative approach to that subject would never have been accepted by universities at the time. Right-wing supporters will read the above statement and take it as proof of the monolithic, orthodoxy of the US school systems. It is not my goal to argue politics here. Their point may or may not be valid. But I do want to point out the serious flaw in what Big Money has done. To get their point across, Big Money is perfectly free to give interviews in the media, go on TV, organize protests, pigeon-hole politicians in the hallway of Congress, or stand on street corners and make speeches. That is their first amendment right, and it is fair and honest because they are directly addressing the situation. What is wrong in the situation that Mayer has presented us is Big Money’s use of its money to influence people into following their point of view without telling them that is what they are doing. In effect, we are living the result of a long-term, multi-million-dollar public relations campaign to sell us some ideas that only benefit a specific few. Now we have a situation where the billionaires’ money is talking not the billionaires themselves, and the billionaires’ money is not being particularly honest about what its goals really are.  

Mayer tells us that the Olin Foundation, and those that imitated them, were not content with just publishing books and changing university curriculums. They went after established judges as well. She tells us that the Olin Foundation held two-week-long, all-expense-paid retreats for sitting judges at world class resorts where the judges attended seminars and spent their time golfing and eating first class meals. Mayer writes,  

“Within a few years, 660 judges had gone on these junkets, some like the U.S. Court of Appeals judge and unconfirmed Supreme Court nominee Douglas Ginsburg, many times. By one count, 40 percent of the federal judiciary participated, including the future Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas.” 

Again, you can argue the First Amendment and that it is the personal responsibility of those who attended these affairs to accept or reject the information there. However, human beings being what they are, the likelihood that some of those 660 judges were influenced by the trappings of wealth and its implication of influence accepted the libertarian views presented simply because of their surroundings is pretty high. In Bader Ginsburg’s case they failed, but in how many others did they succeed not through the strength of their arguments but because of the power of their money? Mayre writes,  

“A variety of major corporation eagerly joined Olin and other conservative foundations in footing the bills. A study by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity found that between 2008 and 2012 close to 185 federal judges attended judicial seminars sponsored by conservative interests, several of which had cases before the courts. The lead underwriters were the Charles Koch Foundation, the Searle Freedom Trust, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and State Farm Insurance company. Topics ranged from the ‘Moral Foundations of Capitalism’ to ‘Terrorism, Climate and Central Planning: Challenges to Liberty and the Rule of Law.'” 

Aside from sponsoring professors, fields of study, and publishing books, the Olin Foundation provided $5.5 million to start up the Federalist Society. There were also contributions from foundations tied to Scaife, the Kochs, and other conservative legacies.  

Mayer writes,  

“…the Federalist Society grew from a pipe dream shared by three rag-tag law students into a powerful professional network of forty-two thousand right-leaning lawyers, with 150 law school campus chapters and about seventy-five lawyers’ groups nationally. All the conservative justices on the Supreme Court are members as are the former vice president Dick Cheney, the former attorneys general Edwin Meese and John Ashcroft and numerous members of the federal bench.” 

John Olin died in 1982. At his direction, after his death, the Olin Foundation was directed to spend itself out of existence. That process was done in 2005. It only took 23 years to spend all of Olin’s “donated” money. According to Mayer, Olin’s fear was that liberals would take control of what he had built. As we have seen, the Olin Foundation supported authors who wrote books of dubious scholarship that were politically useful in Big Money’s fight for free markets, and fewer governmental protections. The Olin Foundation also conducted a covert operation to change the way that jurisprudence is taught in the United States when they introduced Law and Economics, which introduced economic impact as a consideration when establishing justice. Disguised as a non-ideological and nonpartisan addition to jurisprudence L&E played in favor of Big Money because any social justice decision that costs any company or corporation money could be labeled as a bad decision regardless of the human morality of the situation.  

The Olin Foundation also started the Federalist Society, a professional association of lawyers who advocate, checking federal power, protecting individual liberty and interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning. Furthermore, the Federalist Society plays a central role in networking and mentoring young conservative lawyers, and according to Amanda Hollis-Brusky, the author of Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution, the Federalist Society “has evolved into the de facto gatekeeper for right-of-center lawyers aspiring to government jobs and federal judgeships under Republican presidents.” William & Mary Law School professor Neil Devins and Ohio State University professor Lawrence Baum, the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush “aimed to nominate conservative judges, and membership in the Federalist Society was a proxy for adherence to conservative ideology.” And finally, the Federalist Society has played a key role in suggesting judicial nominees to President Donald Trump and it vetted our president’s list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees and, as of March 2020, 43 out of 51 of President Trump’s appellate court nominees were current or former members of the society. Speaking of the Federalist Society  

Mayer quotes Eugene B. Meyer, son of a founding editor of National Review who acknowledged that without Olin Foundation funding “[the Federalist Society] possibly wouldn’t exist at all.” The Olin Foundation staff, according to Mayer, described the Federalist Society as “one of the best investments the foundation every made.” 

The Bradley Brothers 

In 1903, Lynde and Harry Bradley went into business in Milwaukee Ohio. Their business eventually became the Allen-Bradley Company, a leading electronic component manufacturer. In 1985, Allen-Bradley was bought by Rockwell for $1.65 billion. So, the Bradley brothers established an enduring fortune.  

The Bradley foundation was started in 1942. The elder brother, Lynde, died in 1942. The younger brother, Harry, survived until 1965. Current estimates are that the Bradley Foundation has $893 million in assets (28.3 years).  

Harry Bradley was an avid supporter of the John Birch Society, which has been discussed in part one. According to Mayer,  

“Bradley also was a devoted follower of Dr. Fredreick Schwarz, a melodramatically anti-Communist physician from Australia who had converted to Christianity from Judaism, and who stumped across the heartland for his Christian Anti-Communism Crusade preaching that ‘Karl Marx was a Jew,’ and ‘like most Jews he was short and ugly and lazy and slovenly and had no desire to go out and work for a living,’ but also possessed ‘a superior, evil intellect like most Jews.'” 

I tried to find some objective evaluation of the Bradley Foundation and found this on the Influencewatch website.  

“The Bradley Foundation’s grantmaking is generally policy-oriented and center-right, with grant support covering almost the entire range of issue areas. Of the top policy-oriented foundations in the United States that were categorized as “center-right” by the Manhattan Institute for a March 2017 report, Bradley was the fourth-largest as measured by grants paid in 2014, behind the Walton Family Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.” 

Influencewatch is owned by the Captial Research Center, which is partially funded by the Bradley Foundation, and Manhattan Institute, whose report is cited, is also partially funded by the Bradley Foundation. So, the chances that either of these sources were going to be critical of the Bradley Foundation seem pretty small. Still, there are only two facts here; the Bradley Foundation is center-right, and the Bradley Foundation is fourth-largest. Center-right is a subjective evaluation, so we are not required to believe it, and fourth-largest is really not that important considering how much money it has to work with. If the Bradley Foundation was third, it would have more money, and if it was fifth it would have less, but the amounts are so large it does not really make a difference. So, I’ll take this evaluation at face value until I learn differently.  

When the Olin Foundation spent itself out of business, the Bradley Foundation took its place with assets of $290 million. Mayer tells us that Michael Joyce was the leading Olin staffer who moved to the Bradley Foundation to direct things. Before Joyce took over the Bradley Foundation’s mission was to help needy employees, the residence of Milwaukee, and prevent cruelty to animals. Joyce was brought over and the mission changed. Mayer says the new mission was “to support limited, competent government, a dynamic marketplace and vigorous defense.” After Joyce’s takeover of the Bradley Foundation, Mayer describes it like this,  

“It was small in comparison with older research foundations like the Ford Foundation, but unlike Ford, under Joyce’s direction Bradely regarded itself as a righteous combatant in an ideological war, giving it a single-minded focus. At least two-thirds of its grants, according to one analysis, financed conservative intellectual activity. It paid for some six hundred graduate and post graduate fellowships, right-wing think tanks, conservative journals, activists fighting Communism abroad, and its own publishing house, Encounter Books. Continuing the strategic emphasis on prestigious schools, the foundation gave both Harvard and Yale $5.5 million during the first decade of Joyce’s management. The Bradley foundation virtually drove the early national “school choice” movement, waging an all-out assault on teacher’s unions and traditional public schools. In an effort to “wean” Americans from government, the foundation militated for parents to be able to use public funds to send their children to private and parochial schools.” 

Under Joyce’s direction the Bradley Foundation took over many of the Olin Foundations old academic organizations including programs at many of the same colleges and universities. Mayer paraphrases Bruce Murphy in Milwaukee Magazine like this,  

“Typically, it was not just the same university but the same department, and in some cases the same scholar, [which] led to a kind of ‘intellectual cronyism’ The anointed scholars were good ideological warriors but ‘rarely great scholars’ [Murphy] wrote. For instance, Joyce stuck with Murphy in the face of growing controversy over his 1994 book, “The Bell Curve,” which correlated race and low IQ scores to argue that [African Americans] were less likely than [Caucasian Americans] to join the ‘cognitive elite,’ and was loudly and convincingly discredited.” 

What everybody missed about the Bradley Foundation was that it was promoting the idea of small government while living off of government funds. Allen-Bradley was started in 1903 by Dr. Stanton Allen and Lynde Bradley as an electronics manufacturing firm. Mayer summarizes Allen-Bradley’s development like this, 

“…it grew from making rheostats to many other kinds of industrial controls, particularly for the radio, machine tools and auto industries. The business had “teetered on the edge of solvency” until the Unites States entered World War I, according to a history by Milwaukee historian John Gurda that was commissioned and published by the Bradley Foundation. But thanks to government defense contracts, which accounted for 70 percent of the company’s business, orders increased tenfold over six years, and the company was, according to Gurda, “launched.” World War II proved even more of a boon. Gurda describes its impact on the company “staggering.” By 1944, government war work accounted for nearly 80 percent of the company’s orders. Its business volume more than tripled during World War II.” 

Mayer tells us that in 1985 Allen-Bradley was purchased by Rockwell International for $1.6 billion. At that point, she says, “two-thirds of Rockwell’s revenues and half of its profits, came from U.S. government contracts” and Rockwell had become a poster child for wasteful government spending. The immediate result for the Bradley Foundation was that its funding jumped from $14 million to $290 million. 

Earlier, Mayer told us that there are very few rules controlling private foundations, and 95% of their balance can be spent anyway the owner wants. So, in 1985 Rockwell donates $276 million to the Bradley Foundation and ultimately made it self-sufficient. Mayer writes,  

“Thanks to smart investments, [the Bradley Foundation’s] assets ballooned, enabling it to finance a movement that ascribed poverty to dependence on government handouts, not to the trade, labor, and industrial policies that had resulted in American jobs, such as those at Allen-Bradley, getting shipped overseas. By 2012, the Bradley Foundation’s assets had reached more than $630 million, enabling it to dole out more than $32 million in grants during that year alone. The funds continued to finance welfare reform initiatives that required the Poor to find jobs, as well as attacks on public schools. The foundation also continued to support conservative beachheads in thirty-five different elite colleges and universities including Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford.” 

The Koch Brothers 

In the mid 80s, the Kochs established their beachhead at George Mason University, the Mercatus Center. It was a privately funded, “conservative” think tank attached to a public university. Charles Koch was the largest supporter giving approximately $30 million. Speaking of the Mercatus Center, Mayer writes, “…it touted itself, somewhat misleadingly, as ‘the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas – bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.” 

Clayton Coppin, who we learned earlier wrote confidential history of David and Charles’ political activities happened to be a professor at George Mason. Mayer says that Coppin described Mercatus outright as  

“… a lobbying group disguised as a disinterested academic program.’ The arrangement, he points out, had financial advantages for the Kochs because it enabled Charles ‘to have a tax deduction for financing a group, which for all practical purposes is a lobbying group for his corporate interests.” 

As you can imagine, because of Koch involvement in the university George Mason’s economics department became a hotbed of controversial economic theories that began to transform the tax code. Mayer points out that Paul Craige Roberts, an adjunct professor at GMU, drafted the pre-cursor to the first supply-side tax cut bill of the Reagan era, which benefited the wealthy so tremendously. She also tells us that James Buchanan was on the faculty when he won the Nobel Prize for Economics for his Public Choice Theory that reduces human beings to nothing more that self-interested automatons and our governments to nothing more than inefficient purveyors of market goods. 

According to Mayer,  

“By 2004, the Wall Street Journal dubbed [the Mercatus Center] the most important think tank you never heard of and noted that fourteen of the twenty-three regulations that President George W. Bush placed on a hit list had been suggested by Mercatus scholars.” 

She then goes on to tell us that 8 of the 14 regulations to be struck down were environmental protections, which drive up costs but protect human beings. Mayer describes university beachheads like this,  

“You take corporate money and give it to a neutral-sounding think tank, which hires people with pedigrees and academic degrees who put out credible-seeming studies. But they all coincide perfectly with the economic interests of the funders.” 

We do not have to take her at her word. She gives examples.  

“In 1997, for instance, the EPA moved to reduce surface ozone, a form of air pollution caused, in part, by emissions from oil refineries. Susan Dudley an economist who became a top official at the Mercatus Center, came up with a novel criticism of the proposed rule. The EPA, she argued, had not taken into account that by blocking the sun, smog cut down on cases of skin cancer. She claimed that if pollution was controlled, it would cause up to eleven thousand additional cases of skin cancer a year.” 

There are a great many things wrong with this argument. First, it puts individual benefits over benefits for the community and planet. I am sure libertarians would rejoice at the curtailing of government protections that have the happy benefit of protecting individuals from cancer, but let us look at the communal effects. Multi-billion, multi-national corporations get to make more money at the expense of the public health of the majority. Eleven thousand cancer cases versus global warming of the planet, which will affect billions, I will protect the billions.  

Second, if we were to fall into the libertarian rabbit hole presented to us, what about people suffering from respiratory problems caused by smog? Which group is hurt more by ozone protections; those who cannot breathe or those who will get skin cancer? Which group is bigger? Which group has more grassroots political organization? Which group has more money and therefore more political clout? While we answer those questions, we will do nothing out of the fear of doing the wrong thing and making people angry. My guess is that Big Money will spend some cash and front groups will appear lobbying for the repeal of protections on the basis of future cancer victims. But again, we are ignoring the benefit given to billions by putting protections in place.  

Third, the role of government is to protect the common good. Now this is one of those tricky moral decisions that can end up making people mad when they do not get what they want. Never mind that skin cancer is easily preventable, government should do what is best for the majority of its citizens. And the truth is that expanding EPA ozone protections would benefit not just the people of the United States, but the people of the world by slowing global warming.  

I think libertarians, because they do not want to belong to a community, present these silly selfish counterarguments as a way of confusing the issue. It is up to us to stay the course, and reject them. 

Mayer writes,  

“In 1999, the District of Columbia Circuit Court embraced Dudley’s pro-smog argument. Evaluating the EPA rule, the court found that the EPA had ‘explicitly disregarded’ the ‘possible health benefits of ozone.’ In another part of the opinion, the court also rules, 2-1, that the EPA had overstepped its authority.” 

According to Mayer, a watchdog group, the Constitutional Accountability Center, later found that the judges in the majority had attended one of the Koch foundations all-expense-paid legal seminars. They, of course, denied being influenced, and they were overruled by the Supreme Court. I believe that it is situations like these that started the libertarian Republican Party to think about gaining more control over the US judicial system.  

Enron 

You would not think of it by yourself, but Mayer tells us that Mercatus was involved in the Enron Scandal. Wendy Gramm, the wife of Senator Phil Gramm, was the head of Mercatus’ Regulatory Studies Program in the mid 90s. She was instrumental in pushing what came to be called the Enron loophole through Congress. This legislative exemption prevented energy derivatives (a kind of stock traded on Wall Street) from being regulated by the government. It just so happened that Charles Koch traded energy derivatives quite heavily, so it seems rather natural that his think tank attached to a public university would be arguing against regulation of these stocks. According to Mayer, “Koch claimed there was no need for government policing because corporation’s concern for their reputations would cause them to self-regulate.” 

Enron was a major political scandal in the 90s and 00s, but it was not all bad according to Mayer,  

in 2001, Enron collapsed in a heap of bogus financial statements and fraudulent accounting practices. But Wendy Gramm had pocketed up to $1.8 million from Enron the year after arguing for the loophole. And it emerged that before going under, Enron had made substantial campaign contributions to Senator Gramm, while its chairman, Kenneth Lay, had given money to the Mercatus Center.” 

In fact, according to Mayer,  

“George Mason was the Kochs’ largest libertarian academic project but far from the only one. By 2015, according to an internal list, the Charles Koch Foundation was subsidizing pro-business, antiregulatory, and antitax programs in 307 different institutions of higher education in America and had plans to expand into 18 more. The schools ranged from cash-hungry West Virginia University to Brown University where the Kochs, in the tradition of the Olin Foundation, established an Ivy League “beachhead.” 

“…John Hardin, director of university relations at the Charles Koch Foundation, argues that their grants are bringing ideological diversity and debate to campuses.” 

I am a man of modest means from Indiana. If I went to Indiana University and convinced them to teach some favored idea of mine, I have indeed brough ideological diversity and debate to IU’s campus. What Big Money has done is something different because of the scale. Mayer has told us that Charles Koch was pushing pro-business, antiregulatory, and antitax programs in 325 schools. She does not tell us how many schools Scaife reached, or any of the other millionaires and billionaires who followed Olin’s lead.  

We know that the Olin Foundation funded 11 programs in Harvard University and 88 fellowships. It gave grants to authors of right-wing books that supported their agenda, and sponsored judicial junkets for sitting federal judges. The Olin Foundation also covertly introduced right-wing ideas into university curriculums with Law and Economics, stressed including economic impact when making legal decisions. That idea can only sway judicial decisions in the direction of Big Money. And the Olin Foundation started the Federalist Society, which has become the only way to get federal judgeship.  

Mayer’s book is even handed and fair. She does not use manipulative names or denigrate the people she’s writing about, and she keeps her opinions to herself. I’m presenting her information as accurately as I can because I think that too many of us have no idea about who or what is guiding US politics. I disapprove of libertarian ideas. I think they’re dangerous and can only lead to oppression and anarchy. Mayer has not said anything about this so far, but what is appalling is the coordinated, comprehensive way that Big Money has been working to change US society since the 1980s! 

What Big Money did, and is doing, is oppressive and tyrannical, and a threat to our democracy. They have used their money to influence society to adopt philosophies and policies that are beneficial only to them. They have convinced common everyday people that Big Money’s interests in “freedom” and “liberty” will benefit them as well, which is a lie because Big Money has more money and therefore has more economic and political power than the common person.  

https://point434213800.wordpress.com/2019/10/09/how-democracies-die-the-abandonment-of-mutual-toleration-and-forbearance-in-us-politics/

﷟HYPERLINK “https://mises.org/library/intellectuals-and-socialism-0”https://mises.org/library/intellectuals-and-socialism-0  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://mises.org/profile/friedrich-hayek”Friedrich A. Hayek 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_E._Simon

﷟HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_F._Buckley_Jr”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_F._Buckley_Jr.  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firing_Line_(TV_program”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firing_Line_(TV_program)  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Closing_of_the_American_Mind”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Closing_of_the_American_Mind  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://thepointmag.com/criticism/the-closing-of-the-american-mind-allan-bloom/”https://thepointmag.com/criticism/the-closing-of-the-american-mind-allan-bloom/  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinesh_D%27Souza”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinesh_D%27Souza 

﷟HYPERLINK “https://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2297&context=mlr”https://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2297&context=mlr Review of Illiberal Education         

﷟HYPERLINK “https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=351428&rec=1&srcabs=186988.&pos=9”https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=351428&rec=1&srcabs=186988.&pos=9 critical review of More Guns, Less Crime 

﷟HYPERLINK “https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports”https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports Gun violence reports. 

﷟HYPERLINK “https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=372361&rec=1&srcabs=1338927.4&pos=2”https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=372361&rec=1&srcabs=1338927.4&pos=2  Rebuttal of above provided by American Enterprise Institute.  

﷟HYPERLINK “https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports”https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports 

https://www.panna.org/resources/ddt-story

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT#Environmental_impact

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olin_Corporation

The Road to Unfreedom: disinformation and the United States

Based on: The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder

Published on: 10/17/2020

Page 213 

In Timothy Snyder’s book, The Road to Unfreedom, I have found some cautionary tales we all should be aware of. Snyder writes, “In The Guardian, John Pilger wrote in May 2014 that Putin “was the only leader to condemn the rise of fascism.” The entirety of Snyder’s book is describing the fascism of Putin’s government, and how it, and its supporters, defend themselves by labeling others fascist. In fact, Putin, according to Snyder, is the global leader of a far-right movement that is antidemocracy, antisemitic, and antifactual. To explain the details of this claim, and why I believe it would take me far beyond what I want to say now, so I’ll ask you to take this on faith. Previous to this quote, Snyder has given several examples of how Russian disinformation made was adopted by the Western press.  

Next he writes, 

“How were opinion leaders of the Left seduced by Vladimir Putin, the global leader of the extreme Right? Russia generated tropes at what cyberwar professionals call ‘susceptibilities’: what people seem likely to believe given their utterances and behavior. (This is why Cambridge Analytica, and its access to personal data collected by Facebook was so important) It was possible to claim that Ukraine was a Jewish construction (for one audience) and also that Ukraine was a fascist construction (for another audience). People on the Left were drawn in by stimuli on social media that spoke to their own commitments. Pilger wrote his article under the influence of text he found on the internet, purportedly written by a physician, detailing supposed Ukrainian atrocities in Odessa – but the doctor did not exist and the event did not take place. The Guardian’s correction noted only that Pilger’s sources, a fake social media page, had ‘subsequently been removed’: far gentler, that, than say that the most-read article about Ukraine in that newspaper in 2014 was a translation of Russian political fiction into English.” 

What can we do? When looking a social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc., ignore everything said by people who are not experts in their fields. Physicians have a reputation for being learned, but they are not trained in the history of the Ukraine, or the political relationship between Ukraine and Russia. The physicians observations purported to be personal experience, but from a social media post we have no real knowledge of the physician’s expertise. As we all know, most Facebook pages have no personal information on them because of people’s fear of exploitation. Fine. But that hides who they are, so they could be anybody or nobody. Furthermore, we have all read the stories of people who go on social media to pretend to be someone else, perhaps as an experiment in exploring their own identity. This of course, means that any personal info they put on their page has to be a lie, or again, if they put nothing they’re lying by omission. It’s a very small jump from lying to hide your identity to lying to spread false information. In short, all those comments on all our favorite social media pages could be a lie even if you feel you know the person.  

Of course, we can’t just shut ourselves off from everything to protect ourselves from politically directed lies. The Guardian is a well-respected newspaper. It would be stupid to give up the good information in it because of the occasional bit of bad information. I also do not think we can blame John Pilger too much because he made a mistake that anyone of us could have easily made and probably already have.  

The only thing we can do to protect ourselves from disinformation is to ignore any information that does not come from a recognized, verifiable expert. We also should take shocking or outrageous news with a grain of salt. It seems callous to dismiss reports of human atrocities where ever they may happen, but until we know the larger context of the event we cannot safely make any judgement on it. Unfortunately, the larger context is seldom found on the internet. It can be found in history books, which we all should read on a regular basis. 

In describing the disinformation campaign that Russia used to confuse its invasion of Ukraine, Snyder describes how Ukrainians crossed military lines to fight against their own government because they believed Russian propaganda that the Ukrainian government was a fascist extension of a global plot directed by the United States. Also, Russians, from all over the federation, went to Ukraine to fight with the Russian army because they believed that the Ukrainian government was massacring children. Many Russians believed they were fighting in the Ukraine to justify the actions of Stalin. They had been told that Stalin was something much different than he really was, and were not able to disbelieve what they had been told. To our ears these statements sound insane. How can people believe them?  

Things are very different in Russia. From what I can gather, there are several different news channels in Russia, but they are all controlled by the government. Whether that is official state control, some kind of under the table control, or above board bullying I don’t know, but this allows the Russia government to lie at will and with great affect as we have seen.  

People will say what has this got to do with the United States? This could never happen in our country. Let me remind everyone that everything you watch on TV or cable is produced by 6 companies. That means there are 6 CEOs in charge of what you watch. It’s not hard to threaten people into following your orders when you are the president of the United States. Early in his presidency, our president did, in fact, bully US companies just by insulting them. Their stocks fell, and they lost money all because of a word from our president. We also know that our president lies about anything and everything. At the same time, we have seen him conduct the business of government in a way that assures his self-preservation and enrichment. These are not the actions of a man that respects the impartiality needed to be the president of ALL the people of the United States. 

All that is needed to take a major step towards dictatorship is for those 6 CEOs to be convinced that,  regardless of the legal, social, or democratic niceties, they are going to participate in the cult of personality that our president depends on for support. Then our president has control of all the TV and cable content throughout the United States just like his hero Putin. We have already seen the instance of a presidential appointee, who was found to have been appointed illegally, refusing to leave his office because he, “has the support of the president.” Never mind law and order, our president overrules all of that. This was a lowly man fighting for his job and his own self-interest. I do not know what damage he can do, but I know that anybody who puts our president above law and order is dangerous. I do not believe that there is no situation in which the CEO of one of our media companies cannot find it in his self-interest to follow the directions of the White House.  

As for you and me, all we can do, aside from what I have mentioned above, is always look for the larger context of every news article we read, and reserve judgement on that article until we know the larger context. We also have to remember that the larger context will not be found on the internet. Everything there is written at an 8th grade level and far too simplified, and too short, to be useful. We have to read real history. We have to read objective, complicated, difficult history books written by professional, academic historians.