Help Stop the Koch Brothers

glenn beckFriends and Colleagues,

For several years, Glenn Beck has been spewing hateful lies about Frances Fox Piven, the distinguished political scientist and sociologist, on his TV and radio shows. He views Piven (along with her late husband, sociologist Richard Cloward) as the architects of a socialist conspiracy to destroy America, and claims that President Obama is a follower of Piven and Cloward’s strategy. Although Beck’s views are lunacy, his followers believe him.

In recent months, Beck has escalated the rhetoric against Piven, which has led to a growing chorus of death threats against her, as I explain in my article  this week. It is time to challenge the right-wing forces like Fox News and the Tea Party, the Darrell Issa wing of the Republican Party, and the billionaires like the Koch brothers who are funding them.

In the wake of the Tucson massacre, Beck’s rants must be taken seriously. On Thursday, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a public interest law firm, issued a written appeal to Beck’s boss — Fox News chairman Roger Ailes — to put a stop to the increasing threats against Piven incited by Beck tirades. The letter, asked Ailes to distinguish between First Amendment rights, of which they are “vigorous defenders” and an “intentional repetition of provocative, incendiary, emotional misinformation and falsehoods [that place Piven] in actual physical danger of a violent response.”

Beck’s influence is frightening, not because he has a large audience, but because he is able to incite his relatively small niche audience to action. Beck’s influence may eventually implode, similar to what happened to his fictional predecessor, Lonesome Rhodes, a charismatic con man in the amazing 1957 film “A Face in the Crowd,” whose hubris led to his downfall. This may already have started happening with Beck.

 Two years ago, a group called Color of Change organized a campaign to pressure advertisers to drop their sponsorship of Beck’s show. It had some success but not enough to force Fox News to take Beck off the air. Earlier this month, however, WOR (710 AM), one of New York City’s two biggest talk radio stations, dropped Beck’s syndicated show. But as of now, Beck remains the most influential cheerleader of America’s right-wing movement, having replaced Rush Limbaugh for the top spot.

Fox News is part of a network of conservative bloggers, publications, columnists, think tanks, and activists like the Tea Party that have gained enormous influence within the Republican Party. Knowing this, big business lobby groups have forged an unholy alliance with these right-wing forces. Corporate lobby groups may not share the same views as Beck and the Tea Party, but they recognize the strategic importance of these right-wingers. Business provides campaign contributions to conservative candidates and the Tea Party and its ilk provide the ground troops to help them get elected.

These conservative forces have taken over the leadership of the Republican Party. And they and their business allies have a very clear agenda. It is to dismantle government policies that require corporations and banks to be socially responsible, including protections for consumers, workers, families, and the environment. They also want to slash the social safety net, including Social Security, Medicare, financial aid for college students, and aid to the poor. They want to reduce taxes on the rich (but retain subsidies for corporations, particularly military contractors). They want to destroy unions, environmental groups, and other components of the progressive movement.

And they have a plan. It is now obvious that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Republican allies in Congress are using the accusation “job killer” the way Sen. Joseph McCarthy used the word “Communist” to stigmatize any organization and policy they disagree with. For example, the Republicans titled their effort to overturn the law the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act”.

As my Cry Wolf Project colleague Donald Cohen and I documented in an article in Huffington Post two weeks ago, the “job killer” claim is hardly new. Business groups have been using it for over a century – whether the issue was food safety, seat belts, the minimum wage, the Clean Air Act, workplace safety laws, or any other liberal/progressive initiatives. As we reported, newly emboldened as chair of the House’s key investigative committee, Congressman Darrell Issa, a right-wing California Republican, recently sent letters to more than 150 business lobby groups, asking them to identify government rules that they want eliminated. And as Ryan Lizza reveals in an article in the current issue of the New Yorker, Issa’s goal – like that of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Fox News, and others – is to destroy Obama’s presidency and, with it, the agenda and self-confidence of liberals and progressives.

In a brilliant column in the Washington Post two weeks ago, Steven Pearlstein exposed the corporate “job killer” mantra for the lie that it is. Donald Cohen’s new Huffington Post column, “Another Job Killer Lie Exposed,” also shows how business “cried wolf” about impending economic disaster during the 2002 debate over California’s landmark Paid Family Leave Law.  In a newly-released study, authors Ruth Milkman, a sociology professor at City University of New York, and Eileen Applebaum, an economist at the Center on Economic Policy Research, found that the California law has not turned out to be the costly “job killer” that big business warned about. To the contrary, the Paid Family Leave law has actually helped employers and produced significant economic, social and health benefits for both male and female workers.

So long as they think they can get away with it, corporate lobby groups and their Republican friends will continue to demonize any government policy they dislike as a “job killer.” The political climate is so rancid that even President Obama felt compelled to join the “job killer” chorus. In a column in the Wall Street Journal last week, Obama announced plans to “remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive. …”

There is more than a semantic resemblance between the death threats targeted to Frances Fox Piven by Glenn Beck’s followers and the “job killer” mantra espoused by big business, the Republican leaders, the Tea Partiers, and the right-wing echo chamber led by Beck. They want to destroy liberal and progressive ideas and undermine the credibility and reputations (and in some cases, the livelihoods) of the people who espouse them.

I have no doubt that the CEOs of most major Fortune 500 corporations disagree with most of what Glenn Beck and the Tea Party believe. But they are convenient allies, or what some call “strange bedfellows.” That said, some of the wealthiest Americans share the views of the right-wing lunatic fringe. The most prominent of this group are the Koch brothers, oil industry billionaires who are the largest funders of the Tea Party, the right-wing Cato Institute, and other key parts of the extremist movement. Last August, Jane Mayer wrote a brilliant expose of the Koch brothers in The New Yorker magazine.

On January 30, the Koch brothers have invited a group of billionaires and millionaires who support the Tea Party and right-wing Republicans to a behind-closed-doors meeting at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage (close to Palm Springs) to plot their strategy for the 2012 elections. Here’s is Think Progress’ background research on the political influence of this shadowing group of billionaires. The New York Times ran a story in October about this meeting under the headline: “Secretive Republican Donors Are Planning Ahead.” Here’s the story’s opening paragraph:

A secretive network of Republican donors is heading to the Palm Springs area for a long weekend in January, but it will not be to relax after a hard-fought election — it will be to plan for the next one. Koch Industries, an energy and manufacturing conglomerate run by the billionaire brothers Charles, left, and David Koch operates a foundation that finances political advocacy groups, but is protected from having to disclose much about what they do. Koch Industries, the longtime underwriter of libertarian causes from the Cato Institute in Washington to the ballot initiative that would suspend California’s landmark law capping greenhouse gases, is planning a confidential meeting at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa to, as an invitation says, “develop strategies to counter the most severe threats facing our free society and outline a vision of how we can foster a renewal of American free enterprise and prosperity.”

Fran Piven and many other activists believe that liberals and progressives should be in the streets protesting the right-wing Tea Party and the rest of the extremist conservative movement. So here is one opportunity to do this. A coalition of progressive/liberal groups – led by the Courage Campaign, Common Cause, HCAN (Health Care for America Now, the labor/consumer/liberal coalition that led the fight for health care reform), unions, community organizing groups, and others – is planning a protest action at the Koch brothers meeting. It will take place from 1-4 pm on Sunday, January 30. Buses will be leaving from all over Southern California. Click Uncloak the Kochs for more information about the event and the many bus locations. 

Uncloaking the Kochs: Rally in Rancho Mirage

Sunday, January 30, 2011

1:00 – 4:00pm

41-000 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

Before the rally, starting at 11 am, you can attend a panel discussion “Uncloaking the Kochs: The Billionaire Causus and Its Threat to Our Democracy” at the Hilton Garden Inn (71-700 Highway 11, Rancho Mirage, CA). Speakers will include:

 peter dreierIf you live in southern California, this is a great opportunity to challenge the influence of the right-wing forces that are trying to undermine what liberals and progressives have fought for.

Peter Dreier

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Comments

  1. Adam Eran says

    First, see this link for an interview with Piven and some discussion of what she does and doesn’t support: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/1/14/why_is_glenn_beck_obsessively_targeting

    The topic of inciting mobs is what this post is about. For that, see http://unsilentgeneration.com/2011/01/18/just-a-nut-job/.

    A relevant excerpt:

    As Lynn Parramore, editor of the Roosevelt Institute’s blog New Deal 2.0, puts it, one must ignore that political culture, right-wing ideology, and Sarah Palin. Otherwise, one will be taking advantage of the botched murder, and thereby contributing to a witch hunt. To avoid such accusations, the majority of the populace are willing to deny the following facts, as outlined by Parramore:

    * That a disturbed young man allegedly went on a killing rampage. That his rage did not manifest in an attack on a neighbor. Or a family member. Or a police officer. It manifested in the attempt to assassinate a member of the United States Congress.
    * That the disturbed young man recorded his ramblings on YouTube prior to the rampage. That his disturbance did not take the form of claims that he was pursued by aliens. Or expressions of a belief that he was Messiah. His ravings concerned the illegitimacy of the U.S. government and its currency.
    * That obsessions with the legitimacy of the U.S. government and its currency are not associated at this moment in history with liberals. Or centrists. Or members of the Flat Earth Society. They are the pet concerns of right wing ideologues.
    * That the target of the assassination attempt, Congresswoman Giffords, had been the object of threats, violent rhetoric and the witness to alarming incidents in public venues, including the sight of a gun dropping out of the clothing of a man holding an anti-government placard at a recent gathering. That she publicly expressed her fear of the escalation by naming a public figure, whose use of violent imagery was directed at her. The person named was not Howard Dean. Or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Or President Obama. The person named was Sarah Palin.
    * That Sarah Palin, the person Giffords publicly named as a spreader of dangerous rhetoric, is a political figure. That she is not associated with progressives. Or centrists. Or moderate Republicans. She is associated with the Tea Party.
    * That over the last two years, the Tea Party has been associated with the expression of dissatisfaction towards the current state of the nation. That this dissatisfaction has not expressed itself in demands for a renewal of the brotherhood of mankind. Or a focus on peaceful protest. It has been expressed in slogans like “Don’t retreat, RELOAD” (Sarah Palin); a call for “Second Amendment remedies” (Nevada Tea Party Senate candidate); and “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous” (Congresswoman and Tea Partier Michelle Bachman).
    * That the very forces in our society that might have prevented the massacre — namely strong gun laws and adequate services for the mentally ill — are precisely the forces that a certain section of the American political spectrum seeks to undermine. That this section is not the far left. Or the U.S. Pacifist Party. Or the Green Party. Those that most loudly advocate weak gun laws and austerity measures that cut off health care are typically right wing conservatives.
    * That the person who has had the task of maintaining law and order in Tucson, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, expressed his deep concern about the community just after the shooting. That the thing most troubling to him was not the real estate crisis in Tucson. Or unemployment. Or the need for looser gun laws. He specifically named violent political rhetoric as the thing that kept him up at night.

    In the face of this preponderance of fact, the right has once again managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and seize hold of the political rhetoric. That they did so in the current circumstances–while a judge and a young child lie dead, and a member of Congress struggles to recover from bullet through her brain–seems nothing short of astonishing. But then, one has to remember how completely the right has ruled the political discourse in this country for at least 30 years.

  2. The Mike Field says

    This kind of commentary is really comical. If you would start dealing with the substances of the issues yourself, you might see the tone of the rhetoric cool down.

    How dealing dealing with the substance of the issue under discussion her. Were Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward principals in the development of a plan to bring socialism to America?

    Maybe the writers here, along with most of the readers, favor a socialist America. Then they should say so, instead of trying to figure out ways to silence their opponents and critics.

    Anyone care to respond?

    • Donna says

      However, socialism for the bankers and corporations is ok for the US? I am just trying to clarify your statement. It is ok for corporations to retrieve trillions….right? that is what you are saying? I just want to clarify….I don’t have a job, I don’t have healthcare, I am a human, but my unemployment is taxed as is the 401k that I closed because I really needed the money. However, Hedgefunds get taxed at 15% while the unemployment I receive is taxed as wages…plus of course I live in NC which currently charges 8% to it’s lucky people…..who are you for…let’s get the truth, WHO ARE YOU FOR? You don’t gain my respect or sympathy. I want to state that YES, I am for a socialist democratic society. What are YOU for? Let’s get an honest answer. I dare you to respond.

    • Gabriel says

      If you had truth in you mikey, your brain might put together the goal of beck,and those that feed on the darkness of fear and hate that beck cooks up in his poison pies that worldly followers eat up.and get sicker and sicker.This is evil wth a political hostage to make it look possible,and if the iq is low enough people with anger or in a mood of toxic talk,,,, can hurt away, its greed, money,power. my fight is just,and not of this worlds gains.THEY ARE EVIL and you must fight evil with what is right,pray that you will also know the bad from the good,not choosing the most conveinent way,but the one that is burned in your heart.Truth

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