Are the Koch brothers the worst humans in America?

January 28, 2015 Originally published on SFGate

 There’s a storm coming, and it’s far worse than the east coast blizzard, or CA’s beloved “superstorm,” or Katrina, or the Iraq fiasco, or Bush/Gore’s hanging chads, et al.

It’s a storm made entirely of money, power, bloviated ego, malignant pollution and a brand of calculated, savage greed the nation hasn’t seen since the days of the railroad tycoons and robber barons, if ever.

This particular hate-storm is borne of a single question: What would you get if you crossed a ruthless drug kingpin, a mafia crime lord, the willful blindness of the NRA, the combined CEOs of Monsanto, Exxon and RJ Reynolds and a couple scared old wolverines with God complex and a penchant for contaminating the world?

Why, you’d get the brothers Koch, of course, David and Charles, easily the most unsavory, power-mad libertarian mega-capitalists in modern American history.

I say that with a pretty healthy degree of certainty, too: No one anywhere likes the Koch brothers. You have never read a truly kind word about them, or how they have a terrific sense of humor, lots of warmth and charisma, a generous spirit, are always a delight to be around, bring good things to life and the planet.

On the contrary. Their companies (oil, coal, paper, energy) are some of the worst offenders in the country in terms of pollution and toxic waste. They have paid record fines, legal fees, hush moneys. They refuse to debate all sorts of allegations against them (“They are truly cowards in the worst way,” says filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who made not one, but two documentaries exposing them). They only recently started to grant interviews, because they do not come off well and they prefer to stay in the shadows. But when you’re trying to forcibly buy the entire US political agenda, you gotta play nice. For a minute.

The Koch’s charitable donations, while sizable, are highly select (cancer research – because they both had prostate cancer – and big cultural and medical institutions, mainly). They are no Bill Gates. No Clinton Global Initiative. They are not generous and caring souls. As anyone who works for a non-profit will tell you, people like the Koch boys never give to charities because they genuinely care. They do it either to spread their bitter gospel, or because it looks good on the PR sheet. They do it because they sort of have to.

No one likes the Kochs, but plenty fear them, due to their billions, their ruthlessness, their reputation for buying their way out of whatever legal trouble they (often) get into, their bitter hatred of Obama, their anti-union/anti-minimum wage/anti-voter stances, their infamous support of dumbell Tea Party candidates (and birthers) solely because the Tea Party is full of idiot science deniers and Koch Industries hates the EPA and its pesky regulations, and loves to dump sludge and pollute at will.

So, what’s the storm, exactly? It’s this: The Kochs are planning to spend nearly $1 billion to influence the 2016 election.

This has never been done before. Not even close. As the Times’ Nick Confessore points out: “In the last presidential election, the Republican National Committee and the party’s two congressional campaign committees spent a total of $657 million.” In other words, the Koch fund is massive, unprecedented and full of all kinds of hate.

Who has donated to it, exactly? Who the hell knows? Other billionaires and mega-millionaires. AKA the “Kochopus.” Because they funnel the fund’s massive piles of cash through bogus nonprofits, the brothers don’t have to disclose names, or even to say how much the brothers themselves have put into it. Does it matter? It’s enough money (and influence) to make them, in effect, a third political party. And a horrible one, at that.

You can bet the Sierra Club didn’t donate. Nor Gates. This fund is nothing like Obama’s campaigns, raising tens of millions via countless individual donations, $10 here and $20 there from tens of thousands of minorities, women and working families (and of course, the party’s own share of wealthy liberal elites). This is no passionate, grassroots upwelling based on integrity and hope.

This fund is for strong-arming. This is Tony Soprano smashing out all your teeth out on the concrete curb for daring to say climate change is real and the EPA is good. This is the drug lord hacking off the heads of the local cops and hanging them from the overpass to prove who’s really in charge. The Koch fund is for political thuggery, pure and simple.

And what made it all possible? Why, the conservatives on the Supreme Court, of course, with their twin decision disasters: Citizens United, and eliminating all restrictions on campaign contributions. The Koch brothers are not bending the rules; the rules have been bent to them.

Result: The storm. The open floodgates. The richest, meanest, least scrupulous men in America are free to spend more money than anytime in the history of the country to shove their agenda down the throat of the nation.

And what is their agenda, exactly? That’s easy: More. And less.

More power, money, influence, pollution, venom. Less regulation, help for the poor, taxation on the rich. No minimum wage at all. This is all men of hollow arrogance ever want: more power and money. They do not need it, of course. It’s just what they do; they simply know no other way. Psychology agrees: the more money you have, the less you tend to care about anything, or anyone, else. It’s true for douchebag tech bros in SF, it’s a thousand times more true for the monsters Koch.

Will they succeed? Impossible to say. They’ve certainly done lots of damage already. One thing’s become brutally clear: the Koch brothers are the worst ideologues America has to offer, and they have more power than they’ve ever had before.

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Mark Morford

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