President Barack Obama was deemed the winner of the GOP debates earlier this year because the Republican candidates said such wacky things that rational voters were forced to conclude that they’d better vote for Obama to avoid getting stuck with someone even nuttier or stupider than the disastrous Bush the Second.
At the foreign policy debate in Washington D.C., sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute, however, the Koch Brothers were the runaway victors.
The event was also an occasion to rehabilitate two of the most discredited members from the Court of Bush the Lesser – and that’s a pretty tall order to stand head and shoulders above those other scoundrels and chickenhawk war criminals.
At a time thousands of Americans have taken to the streets all over the country to protest the crimes by Wall Street against the rest of us, the Republicans held a debate that epitomized, and even catered to, the 1% who targeted by the demonstrators.
Some might ask what David and Charles Koch have to do with the Republican debate. Simple. They paid for it, just like they have bought and paid for so many members of Congress. The Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute are piggy banks for Koch largesse. Disguised as “think tanks,” their mission is to provide an intellectual and academic fig leaf for the Koch vision of deregulation and corporatist plutocratic plundering of America.
The Koch Brothers, who started life a few billion dollars ahead of 99.99% of Americans, are devoted to keeping it that way. While Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are leaving their fortunes to organizations devoted to improving health, education and other good works for people, the Koch mission is to make sure billionaires grab as much money as possible from the rest of us.
If government subsidizes their oil business or pipelines, then it’s “good” government. If government enacts safety regulations to protect workers in dangerous industrial conditions or health rules so people don’t die from breathing toxic fumes belched out of a Koch Industries plant, that’s “bad” government. If government denies health care to poor people or raises tuition that keeps low-income students from going to college, that’s “good” government. If government taxes the estates of billionaires, as laid out by our Founding Fathers, that’s “bad” government.
Koch activism is typified by all those crazy teabaggers who disrupted town hall meetings held by members of Congress. That didn’t just happen by accident. The Koch Brothers sponsor Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works, which bused in people to Tea Party events and instructed teabaggers on Web sites how to wreak havoc in town halls. The whole idea was to weaken Obama so he would be unable to accomplish anything that benefits 99% of Americans rather than them.
Think tanks and political recipients of Koch largesse, such as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, have pushed a disciplined list of regressive ideas: anti-union legislation, ending child labor laws, abolishing Social Security, destroying the Environmental Protection Agency, and further tax giveaways for the wealthiest people and corporations.
The foreign policy “debate” was a cleverly disguised infomercial to “mainstream” Koch Brothers ideas. The candidates described the Obama administration’s foreign policy as a failure without explaining why. Even though there has been no terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Obama took office and Osama bin Laden is dead, the weak-kneed Republicans lined up to describe Obama as “weak” on terrorism. During Obama’s tenure, Moammar Gadhafi was toppled, numerous Arab dictators fell from power, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down. Those are all positive developments, but the Republicans jerked their knees in unison and cast those events in a negative light. They talked about attacking Iran, which was emboldened by the loss of a strong counterbalance in Iraq as a direct consequence of the U.S. invasion plotted by people seated in that very same audience.
Newt Gingrich tossed out one of the most ridiculous lies of the evening by saying that the United States could bring down Iran by simply tapping its idled oil fields and swamping world markets with all that oil. Say it ain’t so, Newtster. Oil fields are idled because they have dried out or become economically unfeasible. If any fields could be tapped easily, U.S. producers would surely have done it. If Gingrich is talking about new fields, he is badly misinformed because it takes five to ten years to bring fields into production after discovery. In fact, new fields are always coming into production to replace mature ones that are dwindling. Gingrich and his Koch sponsors want Americans to believe that Obama is in the clutches of “radical environmentalists” trying to shut off easily available oil supplies. That’s simply not true. U.S. oil production hit its lowest point in nearly a century during the Second Bush administration and has picked up since Obama took office.
Other whoppers deserve mention: Mitt Romney said incorrectly that Obama is cutting $1 trillion from the military budget to spend on Obamacare. Who told him that, the illegal aliens employed as gardeners at his mansions? Michele Bachmann lied that Obama “canceled” the Keystone Pipeline. No, Michele. He delayed a decision on the pipeline until 2013 to study environmental concerns raised in lawsuits by residents of affected states. Rick Perry called the Obama administration a “failure” at intelligence gathering. What failure is he talking about? They have protected us much better than Bush-Cheney did.
An exceedingly low point was allowing the disgraced David Addington and Paul Wolfowitz to pose questions to the candidates, thereby resurrecting them as legitimate foreign policy “experts” to the American public. These dangerous zealots should never be allowed to hold any levers of power again. Addington, as legal counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney, rationalized torture in contravention to U.S. law and treaties. Wolfowitz was a leading proponent of invading Iraq under false pretenses. Their presence signaled to the Republican candidates that these are Koch picks for top-level foreign policy positions in an eventual GOP administration. The Kochs already own Congress and the Supreme Court; Koch-funded groups took the Citizens United case to the high court and are prime beneficiaries of legalizing unlimited secret funding of elections.
The foreign policy debate showed us what the Koch Brothers in charge of the White House would do. Ohio and Wisconsin as domestic policy, Addington and Wolfowitz as foreign policy are only a small taste of what they intend to impose on all of us.