I hate this tribal, partisan shit, I really do. The division into angry “tribes” is an old, time-tested practice to keep us divided. It is the ultimate triumph of those who seek to distract the millions of us who are desperately fucked by our political/economic system. The real enemy of all of us is not the “other side”, with its infuriating buzzwords, it’s the small elite class of super-wealthy activists, and their army of career true believers. They buy politicians and privilege-protective laws in our pay-to-play democracy.
People born into great wealth, folks like hereditary billionaire Betsy DeVos, her brother Erik Prince, Charles and David Koch, Rebecca Mercer, daughter of Robert Mercer, sponsors of Steve Bannon and Mr. Trump, are prominent examples. These members of the top 0.01% exert a heroic influence on public affairs in our great experiment in rule by the people.
We hear there are billionaire activists on both sides of the political spectrum, and it’s true. One side, however, the extreme right, has played the game much more strategically, systematically, ruthlessly and practically than the other. I’m talking about the group that has created dozens of influential “think tanks” and partisan membership organizations, founded and funded “grassroots movements” like the Tea Party. endowed university chairs, compiled lists of carefully vetted ideologically sound judges, “primaried” non-compliant party members out of office, and so forth.
What distinguishes this story about a small cabal of wealthy, powerful manipulators from conspiracy theories like the old conspiracy about all-powerful international Jewry is that it can be easily shown to be true. Journalist Jane Mayer laid it out very clearly in a well-researched book called Dark Money, historian Nancy MacLean built on Mayer’s work by tracing the “philosophical” roots of this hidden ideology of raw power in Democracy in Chains. The truthfulness of these two accounts is proved because neither author was ever sued (although Mayer was threatened by aggressive Koch brother lawyers and investigators while she was writing her book).
Although they have generally worked in the shadows (their actual ideas appealing only to their own tiny cohort), it’s not very hard to follow the Koch network’s money and influence. They fund, among other things, Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute  and my favorite (also Charles Koch’s) the Institute for Humane Studies. They also fund the influential Federalist Society, a society of right wing fellow traveling lawyers and judges started by the Kochs during lifetime member Boof Kavanaugh’s first year at Yale Law School.
There are valid political arguments to be had, important debates that should be vigorous and nuances that need to be laid out, difficult solutions found. Climate catastrophe is upon us, that fact is beyond dispute. We need to discuss ways to avoid the worst of it — yet the well-funded “Climate Change Skeptic” movement (fossil fuel industry millions, including Koch money) that denies fossil fuel’s role in the crisis, makes actual discussion of solutions virtually impossible. The despair of tens of millions of Americans, and our suicide epidemic, needs to be dealt with, the answer is not more privatized prisons (unless you own that stock).
Yet we are usually confronted with other black and white issues, and must reflexively take sides. Is abortion murder? I don’t really know, it’s something that could be discussed, if guns weren’t pointed at doctors and family planning groups. Is allowing a pregnant rape victim to die from her pregnancy because abortion is banned murder? I think it probably is. There are rarely simple answers to these kinds of questions, questions that immediately divide us.
These emotional triggers keep us from having any intelligent talks about anything. By design, these super-charged religious/humanist issues are kept eternally before us. Which is exactly what grinning fossils like Charles Koch want. Betsey DeVos smiles too, pretty as a Barbie doll, and equally bright, as she defends the Bible over every other book ever written. God’s word, after all, y’all.
All that said, and at the risk of sounding partisan, Mr. Trump, you’ve got to stop lying, Dogg. I know you can’t help it, but still, you have to try.
The other day he was complaining about Germany not paying its fair share to NATO, insisting they double their contribution. In a videotaped Oval Office meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Tuesday he said (and you can watch him say it here):
President Donald Trump: “Germany, honestly, is not paying their fair share. I have great respect for Angela, and I have great respect for the country. My father is German—right?—was German and born in a—a very wonderful place in Germany.”
Democracy Now! reported this, and then the facts as printed on Fred Christ Trump’s actual Kenyan birth certificate:
Fred Trump was in fact born in the Bronx, in New York City. It was not the first time Trump made the claim. He made the comments as he once again demanded Germany and other NATO countries increase their military spending from 2 to 4 percent of GDP.
So, while I hate to be disrespectful to a man as powerful as POTUS– goddamn it, man, can you just shut the fuck up with the fucking compulsive lying?
This just in (an old headline from the Onion)
 The venerable American Enterprise Institute, to take one example, styles itself nonpartisan, as their blurb on google reads. From their website:
We are committed to making the intellectual, moral, and practical case for expanding freedom, increasing individual opportunity, and strengthening the free enterprise system in America and around the world. Our work explores ideas that further these goals, and AEI scholars take part in this pursuit with academic freedom. AEI operates independently of any political party and has no institutional positions. Our scholars’ conclusions are fueled by rigorous, data-driven research and broad-ranging evidence.
Others would beg to differ:
Founded in 1938, The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, known simply as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), is a Washington, D.C. based conservative think tank that researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare. The current President of AEI is Arthur C. Brooks.
According to their about page: “The American Enterprise Institute is a public policy think tank dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world. The work of our scholars and staff advances ideas rooted in our belief in democracy, free enterprise, American strength and global leadership, solidarity with those at the periphery of our society, and a pluralistic, entrepreneurial culture.”
Funded by / Ownership
The American Enterprise Institute is a think tank funded through donations from individuals, corporations and foundations. According to Sourcewatch,they are funded by many corporations connected to the fossil fuel industry.