Brad Friedman and Mother Jones have a meaty series of linked articles taking us “Inside the Koch Brothers’ Secret Seminar“:
“We have Saddam Hussein,” declared billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, apparently referring to President Barack Obama as he welcomed hundreds of wealthy guests to the latest of the secret fundraising and strategy seminars he and his brother host twice a year. The 2012 elections, he warned, will be “the mother of all wars.”
Charles Koch would probably not publicly compare the president of the United States to a murderous dictator. (As a general rule, he and his brother don’t do much politicking or speechifying in public at all.) But Mother Jones has obtained exclusive audio recordings from the Koch seminar, a private event that took place in June at a resort near Vail, Colorado…
Charles and David Koch are co-owners of Koch Industries, an energy and chemical conglomerate inherited from their father that is currently America’s second-largest privately held company. To date, the brothers have spent more than $100 million supporting hard-right political campaigns and institutions. They are key funders of the movement to discredit climate science and sow doubt on the scientific consensus that human activities contribute to global warming.
The Kochs also bankrolled the fledgling tea party by making massive investments in right-wing political advocacy groups such as Americans for Prosperity as detailed by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker last year. More generally, the brothers have dedicated a portion of their vast wealth—and that of their benefactors—to influencing elections across the nation and swaying public opinion on everything from health care and fracking to labor policy and government spending…
During his welcoming remarks, Charles Koch warned his guests that the 2012 elections are nothing short of a battle “for the life or death of this country.” He then acknowledged the individuals and families who had given more than $1 million to the brothers’ efforts—though he misspoke, saying “more than a billion,” earning a huge laugh from the crowd. “Well, I was thinking of Obama and his billion-dollar campaign,” Koch said, to more laughter and cheers. “So I thought, ‘We gotta do better than that.'” (Forbes pegs the brothers’ personal net worth at around $22 billion apiece.)…
“We’ve had a lot of tough battles,” he continued. “We’ve lost a lot over the years, and we’ve won some recently.…And I pledge to all of you who’ve stepped forward and are partnering with us that we are absolutely going to do our utmost to invest this money wisely and get the best possible payoff for you in the future of our country.”
Because progressives are punctilious about fairness (not that there’s anything wrong with that), Kevin Drum points out that “[I]t’s quite possible that Koch intended something like, ‘Saddam Hussein called the Gulf War the mother of all wars, and for us, this is the mother of all wars we’ve got in the next 18 months.'”
Besides, when you read the whole thing, there’s plenty hard-data details to get righteously outraged over, apart from Koch’s habit of speaking from the murky depths of his Robber Baron id.