The Weekly Watch
Tales of the Oligarchs
and other horror stories
and other horror stories
The oligarchs have been working toward this moment for a while now. They have patience and almost unlimited resources. The Koch brothers provide an excellent example of the way we are controlled by corporate interests. Then there's the Mercers and their insidious manipulation of the system for their personal profit. Can't forget Eric Prince and Betsy DeVos and their efforts privatizing schools and the military. Oh yeah what about Jeff Bezos and his corporate empire? …and on and on. These are our rulers. Let's learn a little about them and their strategies as we explore the weeks happenings.
The Koch brothers empire is staggering. Not just their corporate entities...but wide and deep layers of their effective manipulation machine.
The entire article is worth a read, but just take a gander at some of the layers of their organizations and the extent of their reach -
The nearly $145 million the Charles Koch Foundation gave to colleges between 2005 and 2015 often came with strings, as when a 2008 agreement with Florida State University’s econ department gave the foundation a say in the school’s curriculum and hiring. One part of the FSU contract established a program to develop “common sense” (read Koch-friendly) workshops for teachers and course materials down through the grade school level.
George Mason University has been particularly blessed. “[G]round zero for deregulation policy in Washington,” according to one Democratic strategist, GMU’s Mercatus Center was founded and is funded with Koch money. Since the ’60s Charles Koch has also funded GMU’s Institute for Humane Studies, which functions as a recruitment firm for libertarian academic talent. But wait, there’s more! In April 2016, after receiving a cool $10 million from the Charles Koch Foundation, GMU renamed its law school for Antonin Scalia.
Youth Entrepreneurs targets high schoolers from “fragile communities” around the country with a “free market and liberty-based” curriculum. In 2014 the Koch-funded Bill of Rights Institute received a contract to develop materials for North Carolina teachers to use in a required course on “founding principles.” The Koch-funded Freedom Center at the University of Arizona developed a course in “Ethics, Economy, and Entrepreneurship,” now being taught in Arizona high schools. We could go on
Astroturf (the cashroots) organizations
Americans for Prosperity–which opposes unions, health insurance mandates, federal spending generally, and efforts to fight climate change–receives massive funding from Freedom Partners, American Encore, and Donors Trust. With 2014 revenues of $83 million, AFP spends millions on TV ads during election cycles and, with paid organizers in 36 states, provides “boots on the ground” for the State Policy Network agenda (see Think Tanks).
National Federation of Independent Business has taken millions from operations linked to the Kochs and lobbies for the interests of large corporations over those of the small businesses it purports to protect.
The Bill Mill Law Generator
American Legislative Exchange Council Koch-funded ALEC hands state legislators “model bills” that benefit corporate bottom lines.
Campaign strategy and assistance
Aegis Strategic The Koch-created political consulting firm seeks out “electable advocates of the freedom and opportunity agenda” and helps them run effective campaigns and gain access to the Koch donor network. (Spotted by Aegis, Iowa pol Joni Ernst publicly thanked Freedom Partners for her rise from little-known state senator to right-wing US senator.)
Data analytics (ie psyops propoganda)
i360 and Themis With the i360 database topping 250 million US adults, including 190 million registered voters, the Kochs’ data operation is bigger than the Republican party’s. i360 and its nonprofit arm Themis provide the data analysis that Koch-sponsored groups and politicians use for sophisticated targeting.
Through its many legal fronts–including the Institute for Free Speech, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Center for individual Rights, and Liberty Justice Center–the Kochs and their network have backed hundreds of court challenges to laws that they find inconvenient. Dispersing almost $300 million, they have backed campaign finance deregulation and chipped away at pro-union laws.
The Franklin Center is “an ambitious, right-leaning investigative nonprofit focused on state and regional issues,” according to the Columbia Journalism Review. The center’s website notes that Koch funds “help fill the void created as the nation’s newspapers cut back on their statehouse news coverage.”
Watchdog.org Most active in political swing states, this project of the Franklin Center is an online hub for reporting on state and local governments. Talent development and administrative support Freedom Partners Shared Services provides administrative support, human resources, and recruitment for Koch-funded entities, and, Politico says, “assist[s] with everything from scouting office space to accounting to furniture and security.”
American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, and Manhattan Institute are among the well-known Koch-funded idea and propaganda machines, but more obscure entities such as the State Policy Network are far more insidious. SPN is an umbrella organization for some 60 “pro-freedom” state-level think tanks that aim to cut state government employees’ pay, oppose public sector collective bargaining, reduce services in education and health-care, promote school vouchers, oppose efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce or eliminate income and sales taxes.
Issues these groups address
Union bashing and busting: National Right to Work Committee
No limits on guns: NRA Institute for Legislative Action
Climate change denial: 84 denier organizations have received over $100 million from the Kochs since 1997, Greenpeace has calculated.
Public funding for private and charter schools: The Libre Initiative is organizing in 11 states. (Charles has a deep history of hostility toward the very idea of public schools, which his Daddy Fred charged were commie infiltrated.)
Attacking anti-corruption campaign laws; pushing for privatization of our roads, public lands, and virtually anything else; attacking laws that protect our water and air; etc.
How did they devise such a evil plan? Meet the little known economist that created the road map to oligarchy (h/t joe) https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/meet-the-economist-behin...
Bill Moyers helped me to learn of the Koch influence. Once they succeeded with the Citizen's United case, they became more visible because Katy bar the door unlimited cash started the ball rolling in a real way.
...and his documentary “The United States of ALEC” (1 hour with text)
Brave New Films hour documentary “Koch Brothers Exposed” 2014 edition
Here's an current web based expose.
How much did they contribute to your state candidates?
Look what they've accomplished. Some of their successful campaigns include -
legally equating money (property) with speech (Citizens United)
deconstruction of social programs
replacing legal suits with binding arbitration
stacking the courts
climate change denial
https://therealnews.com/stories/trump-the-koch-brothers-and-their-war-on... (32 min or text)
Mercer's right there with the Koch brothers promoting those fossil fuels.
from wiki entries on Mercer, Cambridge Analytica, and SCL group....
Robert Leroy Mercer is an American computer scientist, who was a developer in early artificial intelligence and co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund.
Mercer played a key role in the Brexit campaign by donating data analytics services to Nigel Farage. He is also a major funder of organizations supporting right-wing political causes in the United States, such as Breitbart News and Donald Trump's 2016 campaign for president. He is the principal benefactor of the Make America Number 1 super PAC. In November 2017, Mercer announced he would step down from Renaissance Technologies and sell his stake in Breitbart News to his daughters.
Cambridge Analytica was founded by conservative businessmen Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer. A minimum of 15 million dollars has been invested into the company by Mercer, according to The New York Times. Bannon's stake in the company was estimated at 1 to 5 million dollars, but he divested his holdings in April 2017 as required by his role as White House Chief Strategist.
Cambridge Analytica (SCL USA) was incorporated in January 2015 with its registered office in Westferry Circus, London and just one staff member, its director and CEO Alexander James Ashburner Nix (also appointed in January 2015). Nix is also the director of nine similar companies sharing the same registered offices in London, including Firecrest technologies, Emerdata and six SCL Group companies including "SCL elections limited". Nigel Oakes founded SCL Group, which is the parent company of Cambridge Analytica. In March 2018, Jennifer Mercer and Rebekah Anne Mercer became directors of Emerdata limited.
Publicly, SCL Group called itself a "global election management agency", Politico reported it was known for involvement "in military disinformation campaigns to social media branding and voter targeting". SCL's involvement in the political world has been primarily in the developing world where it has been used by the military and politicians to study and manipulate public opinion and political will. Slate writer Sharon Weinberger compared one of SCL's hypothetical test scenarios to fomenting a coup.
According to the Swiss Das Magazin, the methods of data analysis of CA were to a large degree based on the academic work of Michal Kosinski. In 2008, Kosinski had joined the Psychometrics Centre of Cambridge University where he then developed with his colleagues a profiling system using general online data, Facebook-likes, and smartphone data. He showed that with a limited number of "likes", people can be analysed better than friends or relatives can do and that individual psychological targeting is a powerful tool to influence people.
Can you say brainwashing?
Max Blumenthal explains the way in which these companies collect and use data. It isn't just the US but a world wide propaganda production.
“...looking at these SCL documents, I learned about this entire wider web of covert influence operations. And we really have to see Cambridge Analytica as just the tip of the massive iceberg that might represent the greatest threat to whatever’s left of democracy. “
Guess we're all psyops victims of the oligarchs....
Jeremy Scahill does a great job weaving the threads together between countries and oligarchs using Eric Price, the mercenary, and his role in provoking war and conflict.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2FlQHwi300 (12 min)
Here's an ice 5 min summary on how the oligarchy works
Here's an excellent 30 min documentary for your Uncle Bill or Aunt Betsy that has no understanding we've become an oligarchy
Jimmy does a great job showing us how out of touch billionaires become using Starbucks owner's clueless remarks (20 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHpN7X9iK3o
Is it wealth or greed that leads to a lack of empathy? Probably both.
The oligarchs are too numerous to examine them all, but in passing here's some other overlords to contemplate...
Jeff Bezos Last year he became the world's wealthiest person when his estimated net worth increased to just over $90 billion. His wealth surpassed $100 billion for the first time on November 24 after Amazon's share price increased by more than 2.5%. On March 6, 2018, Forbes formally designated Bezos the wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $112 billion, making him the first centi-billionaire on the wealth index.
He owns the WaPo, contracts with the CIA for cloud storage, and is the major retailer in the US. Consider his newest device Fire TV Cube - https://www.cnet.com/products/amazon-fire-tv-cube/preview/ They don't need to implant a chip in your brain, they can just use this sort of technology to control us and our desires.
The Bezos empire is eclipsing the Walton families. To understand their business model check out this Al Jazeera documentary on the rise of the oligarchy (45 min)
George Soros is another meddling oligarch. He's behind the problems in Ukraine
Betsy DeVos, education profiteer, and public school destroyer. Uneducated people are easier to control.
I was glad to read a teacher stood up to her...on one of those rare occasions where she talked with education professionals...
DeVos later repeated her criticism of teachers who walked out in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado. Hazell said she told Arizona Teacher of the Year Josh Meibos, whose colleagues had shut down schools for a third day to protest for more education funding: “I hope the teachers would not work out our grievances at the expense of the kids.”
I've dropped this link around in a couple of spots. If you missed the 11 min summary of America's monopolies, it is worth your time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLfO-2t1qPQ
And so many others like...
Mark Zuckerberg Time magazine has named Zuckerberg among the 100 wealthiest and most influential people in the world as a part of its Person of the Year award. In December 2016, Zuckerberg was ranked 10th on Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People.
Warren Buffet He is considered one of the most successful investors in the world and has a net worth of US$84 billion as of June 3, 2018, making him the fourth wealthiest person in the world
Bill Gates who along with Buffet created The Giving Pledge, whereby they and other billionaires pledge to give at least half of their wealth to philanthropy. Appearing to be charitable is a PR stunt of the oligarchs. Look who brings you the PBS science show NOVA and sits on the board of the Smithsonian (David Koch).
Some are not as well known in the US like...
Carlos Slim, a Mexican business magnate, engineer, investor and philanthropist. From 2010 to 2013, Slim was ranked as the richest person in the world by the Forbes business magazine. He derived his fortune from his extensive holdings in a considerable number of Mexican companies through his conglomerate, Grupo Carso. As of March 2018, he is the seventh-richest person in the world according to Forbes' listing of The World's Billionaires with a net worth estimated at $70.5 billion. His conglomerate includes education, health care, industrial manufacturing, transportation, real estate, media, energy, hospitality, entertainment, high-technology, retail, sports and financial services. .
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim became the largest individual shareholder in New York Times Co. after exercising warrants that more than doubled his stake in the media company to 16.8%. https://www.wsj.com/articles/carlos-slim-exercises-new-york-times-warran...
I wonder how the Mexican oligarchs are handling the rise of a populous presidential candidate. Well they pull out all the stops, and if that doesn't work they assassinate.
Here's more in video or text on the election...
But it isn't individuals...it is the networks (3 min)
Richard Wolff and his view on the rise of the oligarchy (7 min)
Basic income is a scam of the oligarchs...Guaranteed well paying fulfilling jobs would be much better, Chris Hedges and Mr Fish
More from Chris Hedges, “ Oligarchs care nothing for competency, intelligence, honesty, rationality, self-sacrifice or the common good. They pervert, deform and dismantle systems of power to serve their immediate interests, squandering the future for short-term personal gain”
In an oligarchy, democracy is an illusion...
What democracy? I voted this week, but I followed instructions...
Nick Branna sent an email with his take...
In California, the state Democratic Party broke its own rules to secure yet another term for two of the most disliked and reprehensible corporate politicians, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Both have been in office for about 30 years and enriched themselves to the tune of $100 million dollars in the course of their “public service.”
In Iowa, Bernie pulled out all the stops for Pete D’Alessandro. He endorsed him personally, led a rally, raised money and narrated a TV ad, but Pete still came in a distant third. Our Revolution’s Cathy Glasson also lost to establishment Democrat Fred Hubbell in Iowa’s race for Governor.
In New Jersey, Our Revolution and Justice Democrat candidates Peter Jacob and Jim Keady lost their congressional races to establishment candidates. As did progressives in Alabama, New Mexico and Montana.
The Democratic Party doesn’t even pretend to abide by its impartiality rules anymore. It openly floods races in corporate money, feeds opposition research to the media, forces progressives to spend three quarters of their fundraising on consultants and ads, changes the rules required to get party support, knocks progressives off the ballot, denies access to crucial voter data, endorses establishment Democrats, and even gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates.
Jimmy Dore had this take on Pelosi and the Californication primary...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ1i_BM_qTE (16 min)
Jimmy Carter told us the truth a while back https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDsPWmioSHg (1.5 min)
This nice 5.5 min story of the corruption of the USA has been posted on c99 many times.
Before we go let's have at look at the real world as in nature...
Fascinating study of the biomass (weight) of various species on Earth.
I feel like this is a superficial swipe covering the nature of the US oligarchy. It would take volumes not just an essay to do justice to the subject. There is no doubt there is a concerted effort to subvert the will of the people. The goal is the rule of property (owners) rather than citizens. You know the golden rule...those that have the gold make the rules. The plan is incredibly successful and is occurring at the local, state, national, and global level.
I look forward to your comments and stories below. Sorry I won't be around today. I'm going to see my sister from Texas in Birmingham today. Here's wishing you all an nice day in our oligarchy.