Citizen Koch – worth viewing
I recently watched a documentary called Citizen Koch. From articles I have read, I gather that this film was originally scheduled to air on PBS, but was pulled when mega-wealthy donors affiliated with the Koch brothers threatened to pull their funding. David Koch has donated $83 million to PBS since the 1980s, the same period during which public/government funding was dramatically withdrawn.
It is not the best documentary in the world. However, it does illustrate how a few mega-wealthy donors are controlling U.S. politics, both by purchasing candidates directly and by dumping money into propaganda campaigns aiming to convince the public to vote in the mega-wealthy’s interests. According to Citizen Koch, these efforts primarily target Republicans, as well as disgruntled Republicans who have joined the Tea Party. A major contributor to the Tea Party is Americans for Prosperity (AFP), which the Koch brothers founded.
Another “organization with ties to the Koch Brothers, Freedom Partners, gave… $236 million to conservative organizations, including Tea Party groups…” The majority of Freedom Partners board directors are “long-time employees of the Koch brothers,” and Freedom Partners has “been called ‘the Koch brothers’ secret bank’ for its function as a vehicle to provide large donations to external organizations that advance causes supported by the Kochs.” (Wikipedia)
Most of the Republicans I know are honest, sincere people. However, many listen to Fox News exclusively, or nearly so. However, for the past 20 years, Fox news has been run by Roger Ailes, a professional propagandist.
“A memo entitled A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News, buried in the Nixon library, details a plan between Ailes and the White House to bring pro-administration stories to television networks around the country. It reads: ‘Today television news is watched more often than people read newspapers, than people listen to the radio, than people read or gather any other form of communication. The reason: People are lazy. With television you just sit—watch—listen. The thinking is done for you.'” (Washington Post, Richard Nixon and Roger Ailes 1970s plan to put the GOP on TV, by Melissa Bell).
“The idea as initially envisioned doesn’t appear to have gotten off the ground. But Ailes obviously did do ‘more work in this area,’ first with… Television News Incorporated (TVN), a right-wing news service Ailes worked on in the early 1970s, after he got fired by the White House. According to Rolling Stone, TVN was financed by conservative beermonger Joseph Coors, and its mandate sounds exactly like a privately-funded version of Capitol News Service: ‘[TVN] was designed to inject a far-right slant into local news broadcasts by providing news clips that stations could use without credit—and at a fraction of the true costs of production.’ Ailes was ‘the godfather behind the scenes’ of TVN… and it was where he first encountered the motto that would make his career: ‘Fair and balanced.’ (gawker.com)
But, back to Citizen Koch… The documentary also illustrates how the Kochs now divide and conquer by taking over State elections. By taking over state by state, they chip away at the National whole — without threat of nationwide outcry or rebellion. In the documentary, the Koch candidate becomes Governor of Wisconsin, and a Republican majority is put into power. Before long, legislation is being proposed to destroy unions. Many who voted Republican are shocked. This was supposed to be the peoples’ party, and the first thing they do is attack the rights of the people to negotiate their salaries? A motion is made to remove the Governor, so the Koch brothers create an entertaining media campaign promoting the Governor’s cause and their interests. Now many voters did not fall their tricks. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…” But just enough did, with 53% voting to keep the Koch candidate in place, and allowing the anti-union legislation to proceed. Once Wisconsin was secured, the same tactics were used to take down unions in Michigan.
Meanwhile, here in Arkansas, our newly-elected Republican officials have been busy. Every week, it’s another jaw-dropping story. Their latest proposal is to change our State constitution. Our high court justices would no longer be elected by the people, but appointed by the Governor. The justice candidates would be selected by a 15-member commission — whose members are also appointed by the Governor.
No Child Left Behind – School districts being turned over to corporations
Frankly, I’m also suspicious of the recent State takeover of the Little Rock School District. And through an internet search, I see that school districts are being taken over by States nationally — taken over by States and turned over to corporations. A troubling trend, but one I was forewarned of some time ago.
Nine years ago, I met a teacher, who had devoted her life to her profession. She was invited to attend a meeting in Oklahoma’s capital, on the new No Child Left Behind directives. She returned from the meeting infuriated. She said that the plan was to gradually fail all schools, and to turn education over to corporations. Seems that she was right in her interpretation.
Once an email is written, the U.S. Government has warrentless access once 180 days have passed
Why am I still shocked. The headline reads: ‘180-day rule’ lets U.S. see old emails without a warrant, by Lindsay Wise of the Tribune News Service. The first four paragraphs of the story read:
…The federal government can read any emails that are more than six months old without a warrant.
Little known to most Americans, ambiguous language in a communications law passed in 1986 extends Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure only to electronic communications sent or received fewer than 180 days ago.
The language, known as the ‘180-day rule,’ allows government officials to treat any emails, text messages, or documents stored on remote servers — popularly known as the cloud — as ‘abandoned’ and therefore accessible using administrative subpoena power, a tactic that critics say circumvents due process.
As you rush to purge your Gmail and Dropbox accounts, however, be forewarned that even deleted files still could be fair game, as long as copies exist on a third-party server somewhere.
The story makes me angry. But I’m also angered to think that the story may have been released to intimidate those who report disturbing political trends online. “Beware, you who oppose us, we’re keeping account. And some day we’ll come to get you.”