September 30, 2014

So is Koch Industries buying ad space on Morning Joe these days for their PR campaign, or is Joe Scarborough giving it away for free?

This happened Monday morning, after they played a clip of Bruce Braley telling Joni Ernst she will owe the Koch brothers everything if she wins. Which she will. This is a fact, not some invented fiction. She's already told them she owes them more than she can ever repay, so it shouldn't be a big shock to Scarborough.

But he went on a rant anyway, saying that if you have cancer, you'll thank the Koch brothers. If you love the arts, you'll thank the Koch brothers.

Because for Joe, charity is the same whether it's buying elections or buying a cure for cancer. David Koch has battled prostate cancer for years. Am I glad he has the money to fund the best and brightest in research? Sure I am. But that has absolutely nothing -- not one whit -- to do with whether it's awesome that he and his brother are buying up Senate candidates in order to make more money and kill the middle class.

One of these things has nothing to do with the other.

Perhaps Joe should go read Tim Dickinson's stellar article in Rolling Stone. Even if he doesn't, it's worth the time to read the whole thing, so you can find out how they're manipulating financial markets -- globally -- along with all sorts of other really disturbing facts.

Fun fact: The Kochs are the reason the "Enron loophole" existed.

But even as compliance began to improve among its industrial operations, the company aggressively expanded its trading activities into the Wild West frontier of risky financial instruments. In 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act had exempted many of these products from regulation, and Koch Industries was among the key players shaping that law. Koch joined up with Enron, BP, Mobil and J. Aron – a division of Goldman Sachs then run by Lloyd Blankfein – in a collaboration called the Energy Group. This corporate alliance fought to prohibit the federal government from policing oil and gas derivatives. "The importance of derivatives for the Energy Group companies . . . cannot be overestimated," the group's lawyer wrote to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 1998. "The success of this business can be completely undermined by . . . a costly regulatory regime that has no place in the energy industry."

Koch had long specialized in "over-the-counter" or OTC trades – private, unregulated contracts not disclosed on any centralized exchange. In its own letter to the CFTC, Koch identified itself as "a major participant in the OTC derivatives market," adding that the company not only offered "risk-management tools for its customers" but also traded "for its own account." Making the case for what would be known as the Enron Loophole, Koch argued that any big firm's desire to "maintain a good reputation" would prevent "widespread abuses in the OTC derivatives market," a darkly hilarious claim, given what would become not only of Enron, but also Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG.

So excuse me if I don't bow down and give thanks to the Koch brothers for buying politicians, contributing to the economy's collapse, and more. I think I'll just go ahead and call their bought politicians what they are: bought.

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