Before we look at how Steve Bannon met David Bossie and Andrew Breitbart, we need to go back to 1976, before the 1980 American elections. Billionaire brothers, David and Charles Koch were frustrated by legal limits prohibiting how much that they could spend on political campaigns. A candidate could spend as much as they liked…
Billionaire Republican backers host retreat with other super-rich conservatives as secret donations are forecast to break records in the 2016 election
You really do have to be kind of crazy to do all the bowing, scraping and ring-kissing that goes with getting a presidential nomination — especially in the fringes of the far-right Republican extremists! Anyway, happy anniversary to the Koch brothers, who are even crazier than the candidates if they think their support is a plus with voters:
Four leading Republican presidential prospects are expected to appear this weekend in the California desert before an exclusive gathering of rich conservatives convened by the Koch brothers’ political operation, several sources tell POLITICO.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin received coveted invitations to speak to the vaunted network assembled by the billionaire industrialist megadonors Charles and David Koch, the sources said.
The meeting, set to be held at a Palm Springs hotel, is the annual winter gathering of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the nonprofit group that oversees the network of fiscally conservative groups formed with help from the Kochs and their operatives.
None of the White House prospects invited to the meeting this weekend responded to questions about whether they planned to attend and, if so, what they planned to discuss. A spokesman for Freedom Partners declined to comment on the function, which is closed to the press.
It comes at a pivotal time for both the Koch network, which has become increasingly involved in partisan politics, and for the sprawling Republican presidential field, which some party insiders fear could be headed for a chaotic and costly primary.
Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, both of whom are eyeing runs of their own, are considered the favorites of rich Republican donors from the party’s establishment wing, who traditionally have exerted great sway over presidential nominating fights.
But neither is necessarily a perfect fit for the donors and operatives in the Kochs’ expanding donor network, where small government, free-market policies tend to be valued over aggressive stances on military intervention or social issues. That could present an opening for prospective presidential hopefuls who have emphasized fiscal issues more than foreign policy, like Paul, Walker and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Pence is not expected in Palm Springs this weekend. But he has spoken at past gatherings and is considered a favorite of the Kochs’ allies, as is Walker, whose fight against his state’s public employee unions over collective-bargaining rights made him something of a test case for the expansion of the Koch network and its most robust political arm, Americans for Prosperity.
Albert Einstein wrote to his friend, the mathematician Marcel Grossmann, in 1920: “This world is a strange madhouse. Currently, every coachman and every waiter is debating whether relativity theory is correct. Belief in this matter depends on political party affiliation.” According to Jeroen van Dongen, of Utrecht University’s Institute for History and Foundations of Science in the Netherlands, the letter was written not long after a rally in Berlin’s Philharmonic Hall, organised by “a right-wing rabble-rouser with nationalist and völkisch [populist] ideals”, where Einstein had been denounced as a fraud and scientific philistine. The rally was no isolated event: even two years later, fears of anti-relativist violence led Einstein to cancel an important lecture.
If it seems remarkable now that the theory of relativity, long recognised as the foundation of modern physics and astronomy, could arouse such political passions, perhaps future generations will marvel at the lengths to which those who challenge climate science were prepared to go. In July last year, Hans Schellnhuber, the founder and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who by coincidence works in the same building where Einstein had his office, was the star turn at a conference on climate change at the University of Melbourne. He had just risen to give his keynote speech when a protester in the second row held up a hangman’s noose. The stunt was organised by the Citizens Electoral Council, the local offshoot of the extremist LaRouche movement, which, among other things, has accused Queen Elizabeth of drug-running. The CEC regards action on climate change as “green fascism” and a plot to destroy industry.
The CEC is at the loony end of opposition to action on climate change on ideological grounds, but the spectrum also includes respected conservatives like Nick Minchin. A few weeks before he helped remove climate change advocate Malcolm Turnbull as Liberal leader, the former senator said that the issue provided the extreme left with “the opportunity to do what they’ve always wanted to do – to sort of de-industrialise the Western world”.
Most scientists were initially bemused by such attitudes and ignored them: science, to their way of thinking, is not about taking sides. But it has become more serious. Prominent figures in the climate debate, including scientists, economists, politicians and journalists, are now routinely abused and sometimes threatened, mainly by email and particularly after public appearances. “You try to not let it affect you but it still ruins your appetite and ability to sleep on occasions,’’ says an Australian government scientist who prefers to remain unnamed, one of several who have now removed themselves from Facebook as well as the phone book.
When David Karoly, professor of meteorology at the University of Melbourne, received emails saying such things as “die you lying bastard” and “people that promote [global warming] need to be put down”, he referred them to the Victorian police. They traced the most threatening email to a person in Queensland, but told Karoly it did not constitute an immediate threat of violence. Karoly agreed to withdraw his complaint, but police did advise him and the university to take security precautions. “I think it is important not to be beaten down by what I consider a strange response to providing peer-reviewed scientific opinion,” Karoly says.
However, a concerted strategy to intimidate can have an effect. Government organisations in particular are a target for blanket Freedom of Information requests that ask not just for final reports but for early drafts of documents and internal correspondence. According to one scientist, this is inhibiting the way he and his colleagues work. “In the course of our work we do scientific reviews and normally you want to play the devil’s advocate and ask ‘Can you justify this?’ or ‘Is this right?’ You start to become a bit paranoid about how this material might be used.”
Einstein’s experience resonates in today’s scientific debate. As van Dongen wrote in the journal Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, many anti-relativity campaigners were amateur researchers who, like Minchin, were prone to conspiracy theories: “The fact that for them [the theory of] relativity was obviously wrong, yet still so very successful, strengthened the contention that a plot was at play.” The anti-relativists set up an Academy of Nations that had an international board and bestowed honorary degrees and prizes. The idea was to create the impression of a prominent and thriving international association, rather than a marginalised reactionary movement with anti-Semitic elements. Today, opponents of climate science have established a ‘Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change’, as if it were an equal counterweight to the United Nations body.
Opponents of the theory of relativity exist to this day. As a movement early last century, they generated enough controversy to contribute to the Nobel committee delaying awarding its prize to Einstein in 1921; he received it the following year for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect instead. The campaign against climate science has likewise had success in weakening public support for action. Meanwhile, evidence of human-induced climate change keeps accumulating. The World Meteorological Organization tells us the first decade of this century was the hottest since records began in 1850.
Okay world, that ritualistic, vacuous exercise in futile optimism, known as an “election” in America, is over, and the idiots again have spoken.
But how could they not? After all, the entire concept of “democracy” in America’s corrupt, two-party system is nothing more than a farcical illusion, and the extent of this corruption has only been magnified by the Koch brothers controlled majority on the United States Supreme Court, who, in recent rulings, gave billionaires and corporations unbridled power to buy politicians of their choice.
In previous Pravda.Ru articles, I have argued that history is nothing more than a pendulum incessantly swinging back and forth between overreaction and regret, and the recent elections in America have vividly confirmed this thesis.
The coup of 2000, for example, that-thanks to a heavily politicized Supreme Court-saw George W. Bush steal the election from Al Gore, forever shattered the myth that politicians are concerned about “public service.” If this were the case, then Bush, and indeed any person with a modicum of integrity, would have conceded defeat instead of defying the will of the people.
If there is one reality that slimy politicians can count on in America, it is the fact that Americans are notoriously devoid of long-term memories. Although Bush entered office amid great outrage, the (conveniently timed?) attacks on 9/11/2001 quickly elevated him, and likeminded filth like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, to almost godlike status.
Segueing off of this deification, these kleptocrats decided to both ensure Bush’s reelection and further enrich themselves and their cronies in the military-industrial complex by manufacturing fictitious reasons to invade Iraq.
After all, history has shown that American voters are loath to change presidents during wartime, and, as Bush’s reelection demonstrated, it doesn’t matter who instigated the war, or for what reasons.
By the time the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld lies were exposed, it was too late. But the regret it caused did result in the election of Barack Obama.
And, once again, optimism reigned supreme, especially amongst progressives who, for decades, were compelled to hold their noses while voting for Democratic candidates who championed none of their interests, but who represented the lesser of two evils.
It didn’t take long for Obama to prove that his campaign promises of progressive reform were empty words. In many ways, with the increased spying on American citizens, the targeting and imprisonment of reporters and whistleblowers, the extrajudicial executions of American citizens, and the zealous defense of Bush-era abuses and abusers, Obama demonstrated that his administration was no better than the previous one, and, in some cases, perhaps even worse.
This disillusionment with Obama recently caused American voters, who just a few years ago were incensed by the lies, venality, and racism exhibited by the Republican party, to put Republicans back into power.
It would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic!
After all, America’s two-party system is designed for nothing more than stagnation, and politicians schmoozing with lobbyists to obtain lucrative jobs after leaving the political arena.
In America, the strategy for political victory of one party over the other is simple. Even without a majority in one or both Houses of Congress, there are usually enough minority party members (especially in the Senate) to foment obstruction and delay. While this would seem to be a formula for political suicide, the reality is the President usually gets the blame for failing to “get things done”; therefore, Republicans simply blocked anything Obama attempted to do, despite the best interests of the people they supposedly represented. This, in turn, gave them the ability to denounce Obama for the very stagnation they created.
Now that Democrats are the minority party in Congress, they will assume the role as architects of obstruction and delay, so, in 2016, they can castigate the Republican-controlled Congress for failing to get anything meaningful done.
And the pendulum of idiocy swings on.
I realize I may sound harsh for condemning the idiocy of American voters, because the reality is that oftentimes they really have no choice. Politics is a loathsome, dishonest, and corrupt business that repels decent human beings; therefore, only the loathsome, dishonest, and/or corrupt aspire to become politicians.
For example, a prank telephone call made by a disc jockey to governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin proved Walker is firmly in the pockets of the billionaire Koch brothers. He was reelected anyway. And Greg Abbott won the governorship of Texas, even though, while serving as attorney general, he went to extraordinary lengths to impede investigations into whether a man named Cameron Todd Willingham had been wrongfully executed.
Still, voters cannot be absolved from blame. Political appeals to the basest instincts in human nature; the creation of contempt for the poor and working classes to obscure the economic inequalities that are causing the middle-class to vanish while the rich get richer; negative campaign ads that attack opponents instead of promoting a candidate’s own merits; and the exploitation of hatred and bigotry that causes people to act against their own economic interests are only effective because voters have habitually and predictably allowed them to be.
This is why many critics of American-style democracy have argued that voting as a means of social change is nothing more than an illusion. Some have even argued that the only way to create a nation where human rights are more important than corporate rights; where being “pro-life” does not just focus on birth and death, but also on enhancing the quality of life during the years in between; where “natural” and “human” are viewed as more than just resources; and where the Bill of Rights applies to everyone, not just the rich and powerful, is through a revolution.
Unfortunately, it is too late. Tactics that have been rubber-stamped by America’s so-called “justice” system-the indefinite detention, torture, and extrajudicial execution of American citizens; GPS, cameras, drones, and satellites tracking everyone’s movements; facial recognition technologies; and the unrestrained spying by the NSA, CIA, and FBI-will cause any revolutionary overtures to be decimated in their infancy.
So here America stands, a rudderless ship occupied by idiots elected or appointed by idiots. And when it sinks, Americans will only have themselves to blame.