Posts Tagged With: Koch Brothers

BALLOT ABSURDITIES

When the Civil War ended ended 150 years ago, President Lincoln managed, mainly through bribery and intimidation, to get the 13th amendment passed which formerly ended the practice of slavery. Shortly after Lincoln’s assassination, the 14th amendment was also passed which gave former slaves full citizenship including the right to vote. Since there were heavy black populations in the deep South, especially in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, the fear among whites was that blacks voting in large numbers, could team up with enough whites that might have had a sliver of conscience, to elect candidates that actually possessed some human decency. Well, you certainly couldn’t let that happen. So the Southern white majority, along with all the segregation and Jim Crow laws, enacted legislation to assure that blacks would be unable to vote in any significant numbers.

First of all, most freed slaves possessed little if any education, or job skills, other than picking cotton. So many remained on the plantation and continued to pick cotton, for little more than room and board under the most squalid of conditions. If any of them should have been so foolhardy as to actually try to exercise their right to vote, the plantation owner made it very clear how he wanted the election results to turn out. If his guy wasn’t elected, these former slaves would likely loose the pathetic jobs they were forced to cling to. And, as if that weren’t enough, Southern states put into practice further roadblocks to prevent black turnouts at the voting booths. Laws that came to known as “poll taxes” were enacted in virtually every Southern state. In other words, one had to pay a tax for the Constitutional right to vote.

Now these poll taxes were usually set at a fairly nominal amount such as $10 so as not to discourage too many whites from voting. But $10 was a heap of lettuce to the average black family mired in poverty. So these poll taxes usually achieved their goal of minimizing the black turnout at the voting booth. But just to make sure, most Southern states also enacted literacy laws which required newly freed slaves to take rather difficult written tests on U.S. history and the Constitution, to prove that they were literate enough to cast a ballot. Tests that most high-school and a fair number of college students would likely fail today. As a result, all these barriers achieved their aim of greatly discouraging blacks from voting; resulting in totally racist Senators and Congressmen that could be counted on to always vote for Jim Crow segregation legislation, getting elected, generation-after-generation.

Now, fast forward to a century later, to when President Lyndon Johnson pushed through the civil rights legislation of 1964. This act abolished all poll taxes and literacy tests, as well as any other hinderances that might have existed when any U.S. citizen seeks to exercise his or her right to vote. For the first time, minorities and poor people in general started voting in large numbers, and the age of racist demagogues being elected to national office was over. The 1964 voting rights act also required that Southern states remain under special scrutiny by the U.S. Attorney General, to assure there wasn’t further hanky-panky going on to interfere with an individual’s rights at the voting booth. Interestingly, the Supreme Court has just struck that provision in the law, in the mistaken belief that racism is no longer a factor in national elections. In any event-“who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. Only The Shadow knows.” (Sorry, those were the opening lines from a radio show in the 1940s. I just couldn’t resist.)

Now, 50 years after that historic civil rights legislation, it doesn’t take The Shadow to know that huge amounts of evil lurks in the hearts of men. Especially when it comes to finding ways to circumvent existing voting rights legislation. Thus, most Southern and many Mid-Western states, i.e. the red states, have now passed what are called voter ID laws. These laws require that before one can cast a ballot, they are required to produce valid photo identification. I don’t know about others, but the only picture ID I have in my wallet is my drivers license. If I didn’t drive anymore, and let my license lapse, would that mean that I could no longer vote? That’s exactly what it would come down to. In other words, it’s a method by which Republican states can keep those most likely to vote Democratic off the voter rolls.

Who is most likely not to have picture ID in their possession. First, it’s the old and/or infirm that cannot drive because of age or illness. If they don’t drive, what other picture ID would be in their possession. Their gym membership cards? Also, there are many people in this country that don’t have a drivers license simply because  they’re too poor to own a car. No car, no license. I’m pretty safe in saying  that these same people also fail to possess passports. So, in the end, it’s the poor, the sick, and the elderly that are being kicked off voter registration lists, and by the hundreds of thousands. The very groups that are most likely to vote for Democratic candidates. A rather simple but effective way to flush all the good intentions of voting rights legislation down the sewer. In the 2012, the Republican Governor and Secretary of State in Florida, arbitrarily booted several hundred thousand registered voters off the rolls about a month or two before the election. That Obama was still able to carry the state, albeit by a very narrow margin, is like the 8th wonder of the world.

In any event, the voting process in this country has been so thoroughly corrupted by big money, campaign donations, and voter ID requirements that its become a sick joke. I wrote previously (for those interested) about the far right-wing Koch brothers who possess a $100 billion in assets between the two of them, and how they plan to influence the upcoming 2014 elections. About how they, along with their other billionaire buddies, plan to spend whatever it takes to elect a GOP dominated Congress, come this November. But not to worry. I’m sure the Koch brothers will give us the best politicians that money can buy.

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THE KOCH BROTHERS

It was probably, mostly true a century and a half ago, when Abe Lincoln stated in his famous Gettysburg Address, that this was a nation “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Back in Lincoln’s time, candidates could often run for political office on a shoe-string, and money didn’t come close to dominating the political landscape to the extent it does today. So there was a semblance back then, that the democratic process truly ruled America. Now, a 150 years later, we know that this is no longer the case. Today, if anyone desires to run for a political office higher than local dogcatcher, he or she will need fistfuls of cash just to get out of the starting gate. And the higher the office, the more money required. In the 2012 presidential election, the 2 major party candidates managed to blow through a cool billion dollars, just so one of them could occupy the oval office. So I thought it might be interesting to look at who is providing all this cash, since these are the people that really run America.

When the two major parties have their political conventions every 4 years to nominate their candidates for the office of the presidency, thousands of delegates swarm onto the convention floor with great hoopla. There’s a lot of noise, singing and shouting, horn blowing, balloons, and endless speeches demonizing the other party’s choice, while, of course, praising their own guys. There is endless pontificating and merriment, all of which is televised for the home viewing public. What TV viewers don’t see, however, are the large, black limousines that pull up to side or back entrances and off-load a bunch of usually older men in dark suits, (they’re almost always men), who are then escorted to luxury quarters somewhere in that convention center. These are the rich men that really run America, and there’s no way they would mix with the rabble on the convention floor. But they show up to make sure that the multi-millions they’ve stuffed into various candidates pockets is a wise investment and money well spent. Sometimes these billionaires don’t even bother going to the convention center; but, instead, rent out luxury suites in nearby 5-star hotels, from whence they can watch the  convention proceedings on large-screen TVs.

Besides the regal furnishings in these quarters, the world’s finest booze is on display for their drinking pleasures. Imported caviar and other delicacies are available if they get hungry. There are also likely the best cigars, illegally imported from Cuba. So these men settle into plush recliners, with their 30-year-old scotches in hand, and watch to see that the candidates they’ve bought and paid for, deliver the goods as directed. Each party has their own contingent of such billionaires, which is the only reason that political contests remain somewhat competitive. But chief among the billionaires that run America are 2 men in their seventies, known as the Koch brothers. (Their name is pronounced coke, as in diet coke.)

Charles and David Koch are major industrialists that privately own a series of enterprises, most of them in the chemical and energy fields, that have given them the enormous wealth it takes to buy the candidates that will rule America. These 2 men not only own politicians, but they also invest heavily in a slew of right-wing initiatives such as anti-abortion and anti-gay rights. To give an example of their political philosophy, David, the younger brother, ran as the Libertarian candidate in 1980, on a platform of abolishing Social Security, Medicare, the FBI, the CIA, and the public school system. He lost, of course, but in the process, poured $500,000 of his own money into his campaign. After that, the 2 bothers acknowledged that the best way to achieve their goals was to invest heavily in the Republican Party, as well as other various far-right causes. Currently, the Koch Brothers teamed up with an organization called Freedom Partners, which has poured $236 million into far-right operatives such as the Tea Party Patriots, that have been vehemently advocating for the de-funding of ObamaCare. The brothers were estimated to have given Mitt Romney $86 million for his 2012 mis-adventure. They have also supplied millions to organizations in California that fought the legalization of gay-marriage in that state. When Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, was recalled because of his efforts to repeal state workers collective bargaining rights, the Koch brothers infused Walker’s campaign with sufficient funding to ensure his re-election. Governor Scott Walker, successfully bought and paid for.

The Koch brothers have also spent tens of million of dollars fighting EPA rulings on limiting carbon dioxide emissions, as well as campaigning for unfettered energy usage from coal, oil and gas.The list of organizations receiving big-time Koch funding reads like a who’s-who of far right-wing looney-tunesville activities. So why is this germane now in 2014. Because starting this past January, the Koch brothers have already heavily funded  GOP ads running in supposed “red states” where Democratic senators up for re-election later this year. These TV ads focus heavily on the poor initial  rollout of ObamaCare and its continuing mishaps. The GOP believes that ObamaCare ills are the holy grail to achieving Republican domination in both the Senate and House; and the Koch brothers aim to provide the cash infusion to make that happen. At this point in time, it appears that they will achieve their goal.

Of course, the Democrats have their share of billionaires who provide funding for their causes, such as George Soros, for example. The truth is that both parties are hopelessly compromised by their base voters. The Democrats are compromised by relying on big labor unions and environmental extremists to provide for their cash requirements. The Republicans are compromised by their base of bible thumpers, i.e., all the anti-abortionists, anti-gay rights, anti-immigration extremists, as well as billionaires who feel it would be really neat to make the wealthy even richer at the expense of the middle and lower classes. The ship of state in the U.S. will never right its course until a third party is formed to represent the overwhelming majority of people that don’t fall into those categories. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening, especially not in my lifetime.

 

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