Saturday, February 26, 2011

Who The Hell Are The Koch Brothers?

As of late, you've probably been bombarded with two names that, as far as the two respective parties are concerned, are secretly pulling the strings and running the country: the Koch Brothers on the right, and George Soros on the left. They're rich, they're shadowy, they're quietly funding everything that threatens to bring America down from the inside and fattening their wallets in the meantime.

Just one thing, though.

Who the hell are the Koch Brothers and George Soros?

That's the thing about shadowy types running everything. They're shadowy. The public knows jack and squat about them except EEEEEEEEVIIIIIILLLLLLLL. This is, of course, an easy fix. They may be shadowy to the general public, but that's because the general public hasn't taken the time to look up who they are.

Here's a primer on the Koch Brothers. George Soros will be tomorrow.

Charles and David Koch, namely. (Pronounced 'coke'.) The two run Koch Industries, a private conglomerate based in Wichita. Charles is CEO, but both have an equal share in the company. Koch is ranked by Forbes as the second-largest private company in America, behind Cargill. They employ approximately 70,000 people.

Among Koch's holdings are Flint Hills Resources (which operates three refineries that handle 800 barrels of crude oil a day, and among other things produces and sells midwestern asphalt); Koch Pipeline Company (which owns or operates about 4,000 miles of oil pipeline); Koch Alaska Pipeline Company (which owns, among other things, 3% of the Trans Alaska Pipeline); Matador Cattle Company (which owns about 425,000 acres and 15,000 cattle); INVISTA; which makes Lycra, Antron and Tactel fibers, Cordura fabric and Stainmaster carpeting; and paper company Georgia-Pacific, which is the one you're most likely to run into. They make, among other brands, Angel Soft, Brawny, Dixie, Mardi Gras, Quilted Northern, Soft 'n Gentle, Sparkle, Vanity Fair, and Zee. Georgia-Pacific has had an at best questionable environmental record; however, the bulk of their violations occurred before Koch Industries took over in 2005.

David, age 70, ran for President in 1980 as the Libertarian running mate of Californian corporate lawyer Ed Clark, running against incumbent Jimmy Carter and eventual winner Ronald Reagan; Salon has more on that. The ticket wished to, among other things, abolish Social Security, welfare, corporate taxes, the Federal Reserve, and minimum-wage laws, along with the SEC, OSHA, FTC, FBI, CIA and Department of Energy. They also wished to legalize recreational drugs, prostitution and suicide. The ticket's goal was 10% of the vote. They got 1.1%, which is still the Libertarians' best performance to this day. David became a Republican in 1984.

Charles (warning; disputed Wikipedia page), age 75, has not run for President, but he has co-founded the libertarian Cato Institute, which he and David have supported throughout its life. They have donated over $10 million each to try and defeat the Patriot Act, alongside George Soros-- again, we'll get to him tomorrow. They also fund the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, which most recently has been heavily involved in the battle in Wisconsin on the anti-union side.

Most notably, although the Kochs officially deny it, financial records show them as having had a major hand in the origins of the Tea Party, with any lingering doubt shattered in October by video evidence provided by the online documentary [Astro]Turf Wars.

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