Sugar Sugar: Sugar Daddy’s Sugar Coating, Sugar Pipes… this post is all about sugar: the cloying and the sickeningly sweet that makes a fine icing over our national politics.
First up for the sugar fix – a bona fide whistle blowing mindblower that exposes the viciously arcane – where the true threat of secrecy resides. It should come as no surprise that this dissembling democracy-buster has the name FREEDOM written all over it, and it’s all packaged tight in LIBERTY.
It should come as no surprise that the ringmasters of this clandestine circus are none other than America’s own Libertarian Aristocracy. It should come as no surprise that in the center ring of this ghastly political theater are America’s favorite untitled nobility, the zenith of American Aristocracy, quite literally brothers in arms – the Lord Kochs: Sir Charles and Sir David.
This is the secrecy scoop of the year – the one that genuinely threatens America as We the People.
How does the Libertarian Aristocracy shape the way we view the world, and subsequently how we respond to the empirical needs of the day? As it turns out, substantially so and insidiously so. Let’s take a look-see and see what we can see, see, see at this 3-ring circus:
The “Koch brothers’ secret bank,” which is what the website calls the Virginia-based group, whose formal name is Freedom Partners, is the glue that has been holding together the right-wing pantheon of pro-corporate, anti-regulatory, anti-Obama, anti-labor front groups that are against everything from healthcare reform to labor unions to financial market reform to progressive taxation.
Ring #2 (emphasis mine):
“The group has about 200 donors, each paying at least $100,000 in annual dues,” Politico reported, saying Freedom Partners would soon be filing papers with the IRS disclosing its existence. “It raised $256 million in the year after its creation in November 2011, the [IRS] document shows. And it made grants of $236 million—meaning a totally unknown group was the largest sugar daddy for conservative groups in the last election, second in total spending only to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which together spent about $300 million.”
The fact that secretive right-wingers could amass and spend a quarter-billion dollars in a presidential election cycle and go undetected under federal campaign finance law is an astounding indictment of the American electoral system, revealing that all the laws intending to inform the public about who is slinging political mud are meaningless. The mockery goes even further when considering the section of the federal tax code the group is operating under: 501(c)6. That designation is for trade associations, which lets the group conceal its donors.
Ring #1: That piebald circus tent in which all species of dialogic nastiness are contained
What does this luscious list of sweet schemes tell us? First, it tells us how to identify political culture by distinguishing between altruism and cannibalism. What other term than altruism has the Libertarian Aristocracy spat with more contempt? Taxes maybe, but we’ll get to that. Cannibalism is the eating of one’s own kind; in the ritualistic sense – in order to acquire the power of the one who is consumed. Altruism is the deep concern for the welfare of others that often results in sacrifice. It is this distinction that separates Libertarian Anti-Democracy and faux-populism from its authentic opposite: a republican democracy reliant upon the founding communitarian ideal of We the People as a society of individuals who are interdependent upon one another.
First on the list of oppositional concepts noted above is opposition to healthcare reform. Significantly, this piece exposes the Libertarian Aristocracy for what they are: cannibalistic political war mongers. The health care reform in question is the Affordable Care Act. Though legislatively enacted under Democratic leadership; the architecture of the ACA is a market-driven model, conceived by the Heritage Foundation – a Conservative-Libertarian think-tank. So, despite the ACA being of its own Conservative-Libertarian flesh, the Conservative-Libertarian war machine will destroy and consume its own substance solely for purposes of ascending power. In every sense this effort is ethically antithetical to the democratic spirit of altruism – concern for the welfare of others.
That antithesis is layered – one layer being quite literally the health and very lives of fellow Americans, the second layer being the legislative belligerence executed by Conservative-Libertarian politicians. The third layer is the layer of blurred distinction and evil irony. The Affordable Care Act is a Conservative, market-based initiative which should be replaced, but with a national public-centered, health-centered initiative where the welfare of American’s very lives are not subject to the free market. The clear and truest distinction between the Libertarian ideal and the Progressive ideal is long-term transition from the Affordable Care Act to socialized medicine – something akin to the derailed public option or medicare for all.
Second on the list of all that the American Aristocracy opposes is labor unions. Here we have the issue of economic democracy at full tilt. The ascendancy of the private sector into the economic lives of all Americans and the decline of unionization in America are inversely proportional but directly related; moreover the mechanism of direct causation is the Libertarian Aristocracy. Only with a vigorously and comprehensively redesigned union environment for the workplace can economic democracy be secure. It is also here where the distinction must be made between the populist and the elite. Libertarian faux-populism will drive home the notion that education and intellectualism comprise the elite. False. The Libertarian Aristocracy with its clustered few corrupting the legislative-electoral processes and systemically directing all the economic gains to their precious few — these are the true elite.
One way to understand this piece of the puzzle is to understand the conservative brain. Avi Tuschman recently released a Chris Mooney-esque study of the conservative brain suggesting it differs physiologically from the liberal brain in one key respect: its predilection for viewing the world as dangerous and therefore competitive. Here too, is the source for the NRA-manufactured “fear of all others” culture that undermines the founding ideals of “We the People.” The Progressive counterweight, of course, is mutuality and trust in each other as a common citizenry, but as crucial: trust in public policy and in governance.
Third on the list of oppositional schemes is Wall Street Reform. The maxim “What’s good for Wall Street is good for Main Street” couldn’t be any more wrong-headed. That maxim is the mantra of so-called job creators who have thwarted economic democracy via financialization and entrepreneurship. As with undermining healthcare and labor unions, favoring Wall Street is a phenomenon that occurs on both sides of the aisle, often blurring the difference between the American Aristocracy and the Privateer and NeoLiberal wings of the Democratic Party – the latter being the force that has attempted to redefine Progressivism to mean something antithetical to its intent.
The roots of Progressivism lie in the Gilded Age with the resistance to Wall Street and the financialization of the economy where We the People were beholden for our livelihoods to robber barons and in Jefferson’s words “stock-jobbers.” This paradigm of narrowing the economy from its broader base was precisely the phenomenon Democratic-Republicans like Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Paine resisted. Preserving the diverse sectors of economic livelihoods figured prominently in devising the Constitution.
Last on the list, of course, is Progressive taxation. Herein rests the most critical recognition for We the People. The grand pooh-bah meme of the Libertarian Aristocracy is the Anti-Tax Lie – the idea that taxation itself is to be reviled and tax levels are always to be kept at a minimum. It is so ingrained that it is the single most difficult value of the Libertarian Aristocracy to undo. But undo it we must. If we do not, the representatives of We the People will forever be positioned to lure and lull with the promise of lower taxes. And if our elected representatives do promise lower taxes they will have to deliver on that promise.
This is the dreadful dynamic we now face and it is dire. That momentum has resulted in lower taxation levels than ever before in history. With those successively lower taxes year after year after, we have slowly but surely “starved the beast” to use the Libertarian Aristocratic parlance. Unfortunately the beast is We the People. When We the People despise our own life-blood (taxation) we deliberately deprive ourselves of the democratic nutrient which provides for our mutual, egalitarian existence. The very role of government per the Constitution is to tax and spend in order to sustain the welfare and happiness of every individual citizen in America. When We the People are denied that life-blood either through starvation (inadequate) taxation or hemorrhage (inappropriate distribution) We the People cannot be sustained.
Tuschman provides another interesting glimpse into the hideous drift toward conservatism and taxation:
Differing perceptions of human nature may divide the left from the right on economic issues as well. Evolutionary economist Paul H. Rubin of Emory University has suggested that “preferences regarding altruism” translate into different fiscal policies. Rubin means that liberals (who perceive human nature as more cooperative) favor greater income redistribution than conservatives (who seek to reduce taxes).
The distinction Tuschman makes is clear, but perhaps too binary. The again… perhaps not. Like everything else, binary has its proper place. The value and appropriate role of taxation is just that proper place. No nuance is necessary when we speak of taxation. Reducing taxes favors limited, competitive, and privileged interests. Progressive taxation favors We the People as a whole.
Now for the grand finale (and a little extra sugar)
Ring #2: The Strong-Man of the Circus; Money is the Muscle of the Libertarian Aristocracy
The Greatest Show on Earth brought to you by America’s Sugar Daddy Tag Team: Koch and Rove. Sponsored by their secret bank patriotically termed Freedom Partners:
“An Arlington, Va.-based conservative group, whose existence until now was unknown to almost everyone in politics, raised and spent $250 million in 2012 to shape political and policy debate nationwide.
The group, Freedom Partners, and its president, Marc Short, serve as an outlet for the ideas and funds of the mysterious Koch brothers, cutting checks as large as $63 million to groups promoting conservative causes, according to an IRS document to be filed shortly.
The 38-page IRS filing amounts to the Rosetta Stone of the vast web of conservative groups — some prominent, some obscure — that spend time, money and resources to influence public debate, especially over Obamacare.”
In layman’s terms, of course, this is known as political warfare.
“The fact that secretive right-wingers could amass and spend a quarter-billion dollars in a presidential election cycle and go undetected under federal campaign finance law is an astounding indictment of the American electoral system, revealing that all the laws intending to inform the public about who is slinging political mud are meaningless. The mockery goes even further when considering the section of the federal tax code the group is operating under: 501(c)6. That designation is for trade associations, which lets the group conceal its donors.”
And that says it all. How many teaspoons of sugar will it take to get that down?
Since the Rove & Koch Ads will likely be making their way into Wisconsin again perhaps now would be a time to keep mindful that an effort to influence how we view the world has been undertaken and will likely continue.
And one last link on the matter:
This is about political cash, not political principle.
A slightly different angle, but one that speaks directly to political warfare.
Here’s a little added sugar, odd and fantastical:
The Illegal Vodka Pipeline You Never Knew Existed.
But let’s not lose our taste for Sugar Sugar or the circus spirit. If we did, we’d never have the sweetness of the Archies:
And while we focus our attention on curbing the corrupting influence of the fabulously wealthy, let’s not lose the luxurious. If we did, we’d never have had Incomparable Eartha Kitt. Now THERE’S a finale:
7 thoughts on “National Politics: Sugar Sugar and the Honeyed Gall”
The syrupy crude pumping out of Stalin’s backyard assured sweet little Lords Charles and David a lofty perch on which to judge and inflict their moral rot. The values instilled by the deranged patriarch Fred is bitter indeed. The tragedy is the victims of civic decay embrace the bread and circus morality as if they themselves are ringleaders. Great post PJ.
To readers, Maddow is a highly paid Obomb’em apologist, no holds barred.
Aristocratic Libertarians, (new category name to me), are no different than the oligarchs in the Democratic Party or the oligarchs in the Republican Party. They all want you to be subservient to them. Hairsplitting about any real, “party,” differences in the degree of oppression being rendered is useless distraction from the core issue and is also as Maddow and most, “democratic/progressive,” bloggers are wont to do, is to fail to mention what is being done in the same vein to them by their own particular brand of fascist leader. Quite simple really. You’ve succumbed to divide and have been conquered, and worse yet, continue to be played like a fiddle for the further benefit of the oligarchy (whichever branch you prefer).
Capitalism as an economic system is by its very nature, highly corrosive to democratic principles, to the sustainability of our planet and by extension, to all human well being.
I have convinced my pet rock to roll over this week. Was easier to do than convincing people that with their own party loyalties they are for the most part merely screwing themselves. There is a “m,” word for that and attempting to continue to differentiate between culprits fits the definition of the word.
PJ nicely written piece, the pipeline part could have been a separate post, not attacking you, but am merely arguing the futility of this type of messaging to effect any actual change.
Disagree. There are substantial differences between what the right and what the left are doing in this country. I did make note under the Wall Street section where NeoLiberals and Democratic privateers have adopted the pro-corporate, privateering agenda by trying to redefine Progressivism. That effort was undertaken by the DLC which is now defunct. You are correct that the oligarchs use both parties to their advantage, but conflating the two misses the necessary distinctions that need to be made in order to understand why our nation continues to move to the Right (why the Left continues to move to the right). Conservative Democrats and NeoLiberals are a big factor, but not the biggest factor. The purpose of this post is to recognize where the Left wrongly adopts the agenda of the right. Both NeoLiberal Left and Old School 60s Left do it.
Libertarians seek to severely limit (essential put an end) to government. That’s not a Democratic goal. Nor does the Democratic money machine remotely compare in size or purpose to the secret bank and hydra-like reach of the Libertarian aristocracy. We will agree to disagree regarding who is the dangerous threat in this country. It isn’t Obama. Obama’s economic agenda is too neoliberal – I’ve made that point many times. However, his administration has been a departure from his predecessor in several areas, including foreign policy. It is possible to be critical of Obama while also recognizing his achievements and his departures.
I did watch the first half of the Chomsky video you posted previously. I see now what drives you are coming from. Perhaps we can go back to that on the Syria thread to further your Obama point and discuss Chomsky. Though, I haven’t watched the second half yet. But this post isn’t about Obama. I realize you despise Obama and you would like everyone else to despise him too. On this thread I’ll ask you to restrict your comments to the post – and that is the Koch’s secret bank and what their ilk are doing to America, our culture, our discourse, and our identity.
If you are truly concerned about oligarchy then my suggestion is you pay close attention to the ascending American Aristocracy and their Libertarian discourse. They are the oligarchy. You’re making a false assumption that the Left rank and file don’t recognize the impact of the oligarchical elite in the Democratic establishment. For my part, you may have lost sight of the fact that I have spent a lot of time (especially during the recall) denouncing the DNC and DLC for its alignment with the oligarchical elite agenda – which is that of the Libertarian Aristocracy. I’ve spent a lot of time drawing attention to it. So have many others – Larry Summers candidacy for the Fed wasn’t derailed because of the usual Right Wing obstructionism. It was derailed from the Democratic wing. Anyway, your objection is noted, if you have more to add on the Kochs and Roves, please do.
Another way to look at distinction – you are focusing on the puppets and I am focusing on the puppeteers. Koch’s oligarchs have been leading and directing and manipulating the money game in electoral politics – Democrats have followed in their footsteps. This is especially true with PACs and SuperPacs. But the message(s) coming out of those Democratic SuperPacs isn’t the solidified agenda of multiple arms found with the Koch oligarchs, nor is that Democratic messaging distorting our culture and politics like the Libertarian Aristocracy is.
Oh and NQ – I’m not succumbing to divide and conquer. The source for every permutation of divide and conquer is right here in the discourse of the Libertarian Aristocracy – and it’s quite sophisticated, targeted, and predicated on the most successful propaganda efforts from the 20th century. This is a manipulation machine extraordinaire.
1 . When someone refuses to honestly critique or cannot figure out they are being screwed over by the very political faction they are showing loyalty to and never-the-less continue to support it and even apologize for being screwed by it, which is inherently proven by his/her act of parsing a LOTE, compared to another political faction, this becomes nothing but denial and mental masturbation. It achieves nothing toward solving the myriad problem claimed as the GOTE. Arguing LOTE/GOTE is exactly the entire thrust of your diary.
2. Stating my other previous MAIN point (from a differing angle as it is completely ignored in the comments), unregulated capitalism (the real problem) does not allow a democratic republic to actually exist. Heavily regulated capitalism in a social democracy is a possibility, but presently, capitalists have completely captured monetary, military, judicial and economic control of our country. We have no freaking democracy of any kind, today.
There is one element in governance left, which is near fully captured, but is THE avenue that remains slightly open to mounting a fight against total capture and you waste it every time you engage in useless LOTE/GOTE bable, and ignore the real problem.
I understand your point, NQ. I’m not dismissing that both parties succumb to oligarchy (see my next post on this – it speaks well to your concern of both parties). I’ve made that clear. I’m not dismissing that both parties rely upon predatory capitalism. But one party – one faction dominates the discourse and policy in its most extreme form. I’m not showing loyalty to the Democratic Establishment when I focus on the more egregious of the two factions. Note my comments – I agree with you. Where we differ is in who is shaping the oligarchic effort. Who is manipulating not the puppet-politcians but distorting the people themselves by convincing them that the oligarchic interest (which consists of primarily Conservative-Libertarian political policy views) = the public interest. It isn’t Democrats. It’s Conservative-Libertarian Republicans and it is the Conservative-Libertarian system of political-cultural-economic beliefs that Democrats are following. Those beliefs aren’t typically or inherently Democratic or Left Wing. Democrats are not the source.
Regarding your point about unregulated capitalism and loss of democracy – that I don’t address it directly isn’t a negation. I take it as a given. Surely you’re aware I’ve made the same point myself on more than one occasion. So this point is superfluous and unnecessary by virtue of being an assumption to which we obviously both adhere. Henceforth we can take that point as a given and not spend time on making note of it. Thereby we can refine our own discourse and focus on more details.
Finally, one of my weaknesses is that I don’t speak acronym very well. 🙂 That should come as no surprise – please translate LOTE and GOTE. I can’t quite glean your meaning until I’m sure I know what you mean by these. With that said we may agree to disagree on time wasted and ignoring the problem. That said, you’ve now reframed where you think the problem lies that differs from where I do. Duly noted.
We agree more than disagree on much of the big picture. We will have to agree to disagree on select aspects of it. Do you have any opinions on the secret bank or the dark money corruption noted in the article posted? Or are you interested only in slamming the Left? In which case, your very critique looks a lot like projection. That’s not a cut or an attack so don’t get all flustered, please. Seriously, do you have any comments on the detailed pieces of our political discourse – the agenda talking points noted above?
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