The most powerful men
you never heard of – till now
Charles Koch, declined comment to The New York Times. Click image to enlarge.
IF YOU WANT to know exactly whom to blame for the federal government shutdown – and the twin crises still heading our way – look no further than the front page of the Sunday editions of The New York Times.
The story’s headline could well have been: A shocking, vitally important expose months in the reporting.
It is a perfect example of the “indispensable journalism” for which I am privileged and delighted to pay to read in print and online every day.
Instead, the headline is A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning
This should be required reading for every single man, woman and child in the United States.
Congratulations to Jill Abramson and the entire NYT.
IN THEIR DETAILED and comprehensive report, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Mike McIintire introduce us to the powerful men (and a few women) who have used their enormous wealth to bring America to the brink of a global disaster.
The New York Times web site on Sunday morning with this expose in top position. Click image to enlarge.
“To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere,” the report states a few paragraphs in. “But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 — waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known.”
The reporters are explaining their methods. The “interviews with a wide range of conservatives” did not happen on Saturday; they were weeks – or months – in the planning.
Here is the explainer – why it matters:
“With polls showing Americans deeply divided over the law, conservatives believe that the public is behind them. Although the law’s opponents say that shutting down the government was not their objective, the activists anticipated that a shutdown could occur — and worked with members of the Tea Party caucus in Congress who were excited about drawing a red line against a law they despise.”
Page 18 of the national edition of The New York Times on Sunday. Click image to enlarge.
Then we meet – for some of us, again – the two most powerful and private men in the country.
“The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort,” we learn. “A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight.”
This vast right wing conspiracy involves hundreds of millions of dollars, thousands of “foot soldiers” and a core group of very rich white men.
Think: top 0.01 percent!
THE STORY AND the tale begins with a little anecdote from the Freedomworks pledge signed many months ago by this cabal of conservatives entitled Congress Must Honor Sequester Savings and Defund ObamaCare Before It Is Too Late
On Feb. 14, Matt Kibbe wrote: “The current continuing resolution (CR) funding the government expires on March 27, setting up an opportunity … to achieve even more savings by defunding and stopping the implementation of Obamacare, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently reported will force 7 million Americans out of their existing health insurance.”
The rest of it lays out their plan, which we are now seeing unfold before our horrified eyes.
Behind it all is the multi-billion-dollar corporation unrivaled for its reach and grasp of the neck of the body politic.
Koch Industries is the checkbook for David and Charles Koch, who are willing and able to open it whenever and for whatever purpose they choose.
And they do.
Koch Industries web site. Click image to enlarge.
“What is now Koch Industries, Inc. began as Wood River Oil and Refining Co. in 1940. Today, the company is based in Wichita, Kan., and is one of the largest private companies in America,” we learn on its web site.
Very private, we might add.
Back at The New York Times, almost half way into the story, we find this:
“The Kochs declined to comment.”
Don’t for one minute think they are bashful.
“Koch companies have a presence in nearly 60 countries and employ about 60,000 people. They have invested about $50 billion in acquisitions and other capital expenditures since 2003 to make life better around the world by efficiently converting resources into products and services that people depend on every day.”
If you are not worried and angry yet, get out of your chair, rush to the window, open it and yell: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore,” to borrow from the Paddy Chayefsky character in that classic from 1976, “Network.”
It is time!
The country is being hijacked by a small cabal of rich ultra-conservatives. It is our country, in which for more than 230 years the majority rules.
The tail is wagging the dog. Pick your own metaphor.
Rather, grab a megaphone or a microphone and go yell into it on the highest hillside you can find.
We want our country back. Today, please!
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