Celebrate the Facts!
Liberal and progressive interests have long anticipated the expiration of Charles Koch, the remaining Koch brother. Unfortunately for them, their apparent heir shares the corrosive Libertarian ideologies and will likely continue the legacy of dark money and outsized influence on the political process. Chase Koch brands himself as a new breed of consensus-building philanthropist, but the facts suggest otherwise. Expect the Koch money to continue its prominent role in American politics.
The story of the Koch brothers and their influence on American politics and society is darkly fascinating. Charles Koch took over his father's business in the 1960s and rebranded it as Koch Industries. The company later diversified into finance, agriculture, and technology. By 2020, Koch Industries had revenue of $115 billion.
In 1980, David Koch, the other half of the Koch brothers duo, ran as the vice-presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. David Koch sadly drew his last breath in August 2019. Charles Koch is now worth about $62 billion.
Fast facts about the Koch dynasty:
The Koch brothers were quick to jump on the lobbying bandwagon. They established their pet charitable foundation and named it Americans for Prosperity in 2004. Their agents registered it as a social welfare organization, along with its affiliates Americans for Prosperity Action, a super PAC, and Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
Americans for Prosperity states its purpose as promoting 'broad-based grassroots outreach to advocate long-term solutions' to issues including 'unsustainable government spending and debt, a broken immigration system, a rigged economy.' Americans for Prosperity claims it now has 38 statewide chapters and has recruited over 3.2 million activists and 100,000 financial supporters.
Americans for Prosperity is a 501(c)(4), meaning its purpose is for the 'promotion of social welfare,' and that it can spend less than half its annual budget on political activities. Under these rules, these organizations don’t have to do disclose their donors. In other words, it's a wellspring of dark money.
The Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court, Supreme Court ruling provided the on-ramp to the current political situation in the United States. Dark money groups have spent about $1 billion to influence elections since 2010. Dark money means political spending meant to influence the decision of a voter, where there is no requirement for donor disclosure or source.
Americans for Prosperity claims seminal roles in governance in the United States:
David Koch's death didn't stop the family from continuing its outsized and corrosive campaigns for the Koch interests, however.
Chase Koch is the ranking Koch heir. He's climbing the Koch Industries corporate ladder, no surprise given his surname. Chase Koch is Executive Vice President of Koch Ag & Energy Solutions and president of Koch Disruptive Technologies. His only sibling, Elizabeth, disengaged from the family's businesses, and David Koch's children are all much younger.
Chase Koch was born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1997. In 1993, a Kansas court convicted a 16-year-old Charles Koch of misdemeanor vehicular homicide after his Ford Explorer hit and killed twelve-year-old Zachary Siebert at a cross-walk after he ran a red light in Wichita. His sentence was 18 months of probation, 100 hours of community service, completion of a defensive driving course, and payment for the victim's funeral.
Koch is now married and has fathered one child. The family lives on a 70-acre property in Wichita, Kansas.
Chase Koch has done a good job of grooming his public image to portray a kinder and gentler Libertarian leaning. The normally leftist Politico published a fawning article in 2018 that read almost like a product placement. Business Insider, a clickbait Internet publication, provided a similar article in 2019 that reads almost as if it were penned by a publications relation firm charged with polishing Chase Koch's brand. Media rarely gets a shot at Chase Koch, and it seems he's carefully grooming his future by dispersing favorable bits.
Any liberal hopes Chase Koch will change the direction of Koch dark money are vain.
Chase Koch's personal contributions to political candidates include:
Notably absent from Chase Koch's contributions is any evidence of contributions to Democrats. One can surmise, despite the smarmy media placements, that Chase Koch is but a younger version of his father and uncle and will continue the family's political traditions.
A huge question for American society is the incredible influence of individual billionaires on political discourse and societal evolution. Melinda Gates, Michael Bloomberg, and George Soros are the public face of an extensive billionaire class with an outsized vote in what is said and done in the United States. The uber-rich can donate to charity or form their charitable foundations and write the donations off their taxes, effectively having United States taxpayers co-fund their pet causes. They can use these ostensible charities to fund their political causes as well as enhance their public image through more palatable endeavors.
Simply being the spawn of wealthy parents or marrying big money and advocating for political causes requires a great deal of audacity. Chase Koch joins a group such as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the club. Winning the genetic lottery or marrying a rich person is an easy way to a posh life. A privileged life with few worries, however, is no way any kind of qualification for much of anything, especially leading or influencing political movements.
The American hate personalities and movements are not known for any positive proposals or accomplishments. By nature, they are haters and live in a world of opposition. One of the bulwarks of the online hate community is a man named Cliff Kincaid. Kincaid isn’t just the right-wing conspiracy theorist relative-to-be-avoided at holiday gatherings. His work provides substantial support to the Christian Nationalist community and helps normalize the worst inclinations of humankind.
Kincaid is unusual among his colleagues in many respects. He is a white, middle-aged male Christian; however, he does not have a criminal record. Noteworthy by their absence from discussion of him is domestic violence or sexual harassment allegations, a seeming credential for his community. Kincaid was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1954 and had a modest educational record, graduating from the University of Toledo with a degree in journalism. He is married and lives in Owings, Maryland, a hamlet southeast of Washington, D.C.
Kincaid embarked on his journey into the right-wing fringes with affiliations with Oliver North’s Freedom Alliance foundation. North is the former president of the National Rifle Association and a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal.
Kincaid’s next stop in 1978 was Accuracy in Media (AIM), a right-wing hate-based nonprofit founded in 1969. Kincaid maintains an active affiliation with AIM, having held numerous roles. AIM formally claims its mission is to use citizen activism and investigative journalism to expose media bias, corruption, and public policy failings. Unfortunately, AIM remains active in the right-wing Hateosphere, operating in dog-whistle land of homophobia, conspiracy theory, and white supremacy.
Recent articles published by AIM include:
Kincaid’s philosophical realm is an updated version of that espoused by the Christian Nationalist John Birch Society, founded in 1952. Kincaid spews dogmatic anti-communism, carries a metaphorical Christian cross, white (male) supremacy, vehement hatred of the LBGTQ community, and wraps it all with magical conspiracy thinking. Kincaid despises Catholics, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, communists, socialists, and, it seems, anyone who doesn’t look and act like him.
Kincaid is the author or co-author of several self-published books:
Kincaid also formed an organization called America’s Survival in 1997. America’s Survival is a web platform that posts Kincaid’s regular rants.
Recent blog posts on America’s Survival include:
Frustrated with his fruitless writing career, Kincaid pivoted to posting his own YouTube videos. He regularly publishes videos on YouTube on his channel named USA Survival. USA Survival is the video complement to his website America’s Survival.
Titles of his recent video posts include:
Kincaid is a thought leader in hatred of LBTGQ populations and avid in his attacks. Kincaid says homosexuals have infiltrated every community, including his treasured right-wing space. He thinks any divergence from antiquated sex roles is an existential threat to American society.
Among Kincaid’s homophobic comments:
One should not dismiss Kincaid and his ilk as the crazy old right-wing crank down the street. Kincaid is more dangerous and corrosive than that stereotype. He is a prolific writer and eagerly speaks in public on behalf of his ideologies. His work provides substantial support to the Christian Nationalist community and helps normalize conspiracy theories. These materials help substantiate erroneous views of history, normalize white supremacy, and give another voice to extremist echo chambers. Unfortunately, fellow purveyors of hate glam up his resume and self-publishing credentials, and some people may accept he is a legitimate journalist.
4/10/2022 2 Comments
Ukraine and its allies have used the terms war crime, genocide, and crimes against humanity since the Russian invasion in February 2022. Media reports substantiate credible allegations of horrific acts against civilians, and many of such appear within some of the international law’s definitions of crimes. Unfortunately, international law has no obvious way to penalize Vladimir Putin or his designees aside from limiting their international travel. Such prosecutions are an international relations matter and not a criminal prosecution. The beneficiaries of Putin’s misguided invasion appear to be Joe Biden, the Democratic Party, and the United States defense industry.
The international community set up a series of one-time courts to address war crimes after World War II. These include the Nuremberg trials to prosecute Nazi war criminals between 1945 and 1949. Later it established the tribunal that investigated war crimes during the break-up of Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to address those responsible for the genocide in Rwanda.
There is overriding international governance of war crimes. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 established the core principles of international humanitarian laws. The Rome Statute, following in 1998, established the International Criminal Court (ICC). These agreements protect civilians and prisoners of war, and the wounded. Attacks must be intentional or reckless to meet the definition of a war crime. Simply bombing a train station, hospital, or theater used for civilians does not meet the requirements, provided the act was an accident.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has jurisdiction over disputes between countries; however, it has no mandate to prosecute individuals. Ukraine has begun a case against Russia in the ICJ. If the ICJ rules against Russia, the UN Security Council (UNSC) would be responsible for enforcement. Still, Russia, one of the council's five permanent members, could veto any proposal to sanction it. While examining this case might benefit Ukraine by helping international support, prosecution appears impossible.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) rules over four types of crime: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the crime of aggression. The court has 123 member states, but neither Russia nor Ukraine is a party. The United States also does not participate nor endorse the ICC. Aside from diplomatic pressure on allies to press prosecutions against Russia, the United States has little leverage and no grounds to push prosecution.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine seems like a clear act of aggression by Russia against Ukraine. However, there is a catch to this, as the crime of aggression has a particular requirement. When the ICC amended its statutes to include the crime of aggression, the United States, Russia, and China lobbied to protect citizens of countries not a signatory to the ICC from prosecution. The United Nations Security Council can circumvent to refer the prosecution to the ICC with a vote. Russia has one of the five seats on the Security Council and can and certainly would veto it.
The ICC can only prosecute this crime if one member state commits an act of aggression against another. Unfortunately, neither Russia nor Ukraine is a member, so the ICC will never prosecute Russia for the crime of aggression. Instead, the ICC will focus on war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The ICC opened a war crimes investigation against Russia based on a request from 39 member countries. Investigators will look at allegations dating back to Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. If prosecutors conclude they have sufficient evidence for a trial, the ICC will issue arrest warrants for arrest. The ICC relies on individual states to arrest suspects.
There will be no trial of Putin or any other Russians at the ICC of Putin unless they appear in the courtroom. However, an ICC formal accusation of Putin with an international warrant for his arrest would make Putin’s overseas travel problematic and damage his credibility and Russia’s reputation.
A more elevated discussion of this topic might be a discussion of when war is a crime? Wars such as the Civil War waged over the fate of about four million enslaved people. World War II seemed necessary and morally defensible to stop the Nazi warfare and genocide machine.
However, many genocidal regimes have ruled unchallenged. For example, Turkey exterminated about 1.5 million Armenians in the first genocide of the 20th century waged between 1915 and 1923. The Stalinist USSR government murdered as many as 8 million Ukrainians in a state-induced famine in the early 1930s in the Holodomor genocide. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge regime killed as many as two million people between 1975 and 1979. The list of state-administered murders of their citizens seems endless, and genocide seems more of an innate human trait than a rare occurrence.
State interventions and the toppling of sovereign governments seem a grayer ethical zone. The United States' invasion and installation of puppet regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 seems a clear political and economic venture rather than a national security exercise. Both seem a direct corollary to the Soviet invasion in 1979 and occupation of Afghanistan until 1989. Similarly, both were futile exercises regardless of massive costs and never achieved their stated goals.
Aside from being brutalist and unprovoked, the Russian intervention in Ukraine seems remarkably uninformed and self-destructive. Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe and has strong defense ties to the United States. Moreover, the invasion instantly alienated Russia from trade partners necessary for economic and technological development. Russia’s primary asset, fossil fuels, is becoming increasingly irrelevant in a decarbonized world, and the growth of wealth inside Russia will be necessary to maintain any standard of living. Long-term, this isolation poses an existential threat to Russia.
Russia’s invasion also prompted NATO countries to increase military deployments in bordering countries, frustrating Russia’s stated desire to decrease those pressures. Germany announced a plan to beef up the German military, pledging about $113 billion for a one-time modernization of its armed forces, and confirmed its commitment to reach the 2% of gross domestic product spending on defense. Germany, of course, remains in Russian cultural memory as an immense military threat due to World Wars I and II.
Russia’s invasion also showed how ineffectual the Russian military is, with outdated equipment, poor planning and strategy, poorly trained soldiers, and unmotivated personnel. The Russian military budget of about $62 billion, smaller than India’s, did not buy them a seat at the table of world powers.
Regardless of those factors, success in invasion and supplanting sovereign governments is problematic, and there are no excellent precedents in recent history for success. Russia’s failure in Afghanistan helped topple the former Soviet Union.
Absent a diplomatic solution Russia appears bound to be bogged down in a long-term proxy war in Ukraine, costing it many lives and lots of money. The Biden Administration and a Congress bought and paid for by the defense industry will be delighted to continue to fund Ukraine with no risk in the United States.
Joe Biden and the Democrats are no doubt delighted with the domestic political ramifications of the Russian invasion. Facing an uphill battle to hold onto each house of Congress, the invasion is like found money. Biden can use arch-nemesis Donald Trump's historical fawning admiration of Putin against him and Republican opponents in mid-term elections. In addition, the Biden Administration just presented its record defense budget to Congress, and it will bloat even higher as representatives will be eager to add to it to show how they are strong on defense. Given Biden’s adept management of the situation, it appears this will be a significant asset in the upcoming elections, both in the 2022 mid-terms and the 2024 presidential election.
White nationalisms’ last spasms tear the United States apart, setting citizens against one another in partisan camps, often resulting in violence. The deferred national reckoning with American slavery and its offspring racism and bigotry continue to cost national dignity and economic development. Such suppression of a necessary reconciliation is a required predecessor to evolution as a society. While the public is aware of the horrors and brutality of institutionalized slavery in the United States, the even darker legacy of medical experimentation and murder of disabled slaves exists.
The Lost Cause myth inculcated thought and teaching of American History and colored the perception of slavery. This discredited concept presented an American South with large plantations owned by gentry who gently guided slave labor in a communal effort for the better good. The Lost Cause the cause of the Civil War was the collision of two economic systems: agricultural and industrial, and slavery, part of the causes, was not primary. In this fabled world, great political leaders such as Robert E. Lee, loyal to their home state, objected to federal rule and chose to declare a new republic, free of meddlesome governance. According to this magical scenario, the Civil War became an invasion of the South by an aggressive and brutalist North.
The Lost Cause myth also rests on the idea that slavery is a stage of a necessary evolution of every civilized society and so that the South, by extension, would have gradually evolved into a free culture. Both statements are false.
Large-scale slavery is rare, and there are only two significant examples of slavery persisting over a substantial time. The two instances are the Greek-Roman classical world and on the East coast of the Americas from Brazil to Virginia. Slavery was a minor feature in many places and times. Some historians consider Stalinist Russia’s slave labor camps and the concentration camps of Nazi Germany additions, but these fail the criteria because of the short time durations of each.
The idea that the South would have gradually evolved into a civilized society absent the Civil War and the North’s intervention is empirically false. The Union overcame the Confederacy in 1865 and implemented Reconstruction, where it enforced federal law at gunpoint until 1877. At various points in the Civil Rights era, federal authorities compelled adherence to federal court decisions and legislation. Despite such intervention, the American South remains plagued by racial discrimination and segregation, racial inequality, and African American voting rights repression. To argue the arc of Southern history would have followed better lines absent the Civil War is academically intriguing but fallacious.
Other facts refute the erroneous Lost Cause myth presentation. First, the war was indeed about slavery. The simmering results of deferral to address human bondage after the United States revolution exploded when an unlikely candidate, Abraham Lincoln, won the presidential election of 1860. Lincoln was a revolutionary figure, elected without a plurality, who led the Union to the annihilation of the Confederate government and freed about four million enslaved people in the process.
The horrors of slavery have entered the national discussion. Slave traders bought Africans and legally imported them until 1807, when the United States government outlawed such commerce. After that time, traders bootlegged them as the government rarely enforced that law. Their owners treated Africans and African Americans as semi-skilled livestock, separated, and sold family members, raped them, beat them, outlawed education, and murdered them. Enslavers controlled the marital status of enslaved African Americans to produce their ideal offspring for profit. Such discussion is excellent and healthy for the nation and cultural evolution in general, but some of the most abominable features, the practice of murdering old and disabled slaves and performing medical experiments on them, remain undiscussed.
Many physicians in the United States regarded African Americans as distinctly different in many qualities. North American physicians said African subjects' bodies, brains, and behaviors with quasi- notions of fundamental and inherent racial difference. These medical ideas racialized skin, bones, diseases, physical capabilities, and mental incapacities to justify and defend the institution of slavery.
These included resistance to tropical diseases, hardiness in the heat, resistance to the sun, lower intelligence, and a tendency to laziness. These physicians grew into a specialist grouping and built a group of ‘negro hospitals’ to service enslavers with the added diabolical feature of sketchy medical research. White doctors sent reports of their experiments on slave subjects to medical journals. Doctors often advertised in southern newspapers that they would pay cash for black people suffering from chronic disease. Often slave traders patronized these institutions to bolster their slaves’ appearance so they could command a higher price at auction.
The use of enslaved people for medical experimentation was frequent, with both doctors and medical students eager for experience with actual patients. One of these, Dr. E.S. Bennett, was keen to operate when he was a medical student. In 1817 Bennett attempted to remove a small tumor from the head of a two-year-old slave child owned by his father, and then published the results. Unfortunately, anesthesia was not widely available at this time, so a white subject would have been impossible to acquire.
In 1846 a Louisville, Kentucky physician named S.D. Gross removed half of the jaw of a nine-year-old slave girl named Kitty without anesthetic, tying her limbs down, and published the results. The paper concluded with a self-congratulatory note about how her master had informed him two years later that Kitty was able to chew and swallow.
The most infamous of all experimenters on slaves was J. Marion Sims of Alabama. His cheerleaders called him the ‘father of American Gynecology,’ primarily due to his development of a surgical procedure to address vaginal fistulas. What is less known about Sims is experimented on African American women to develop his procedure, and did not use anesthesia, although there were anesthetics widely used at the time of his work. Sims appeared to feel African American women were more resistant to pain and did not require such, despite frequently lamenting their struggles on the operating table during his surgical procedures.
In the nineteenth century, cadavers for medical education were rare because of religious prohibition, and sometimes procuring dead bodies was illegal. Bodies were so scarce that medical schools did not require a practical anatomy course for a diploma. Occasionally medical students and their instructors ended up robbing graves or simply paying for bodies. Usually, these were the bodies of enslaved people, but sometimes they were the remains of criminals and poor whites. Southern body snatchers often sent the bodies of African Americans to Northern medical schools. Rumors that murderous entrepreneurs murdered blacks and then sold their bodies for experimentation continued to circulate well after the days of slavery, although there is no evidence this was more than a legend.
Slaveholders placed disabled enslaved people in various duties in and out of plantation labor. Some plantation slaveholders assigned compliant elderly enslaved men as drivers for field labor, using the slave community’s respect for its older members to their benefit. Aged women sometimes watched children in the plantation’s nurseries. These nurseries freed valuable labor for other work and included children from one week to five years old. There were places for the aged in these societies, but such places also benefited the owner by freeing labor for more productive work elsewhere and the direct value of the endeavor.
Historians have discovered evidence that enslavers ordered the murder of elderly and disabled slaves who could no longer work. Contemporary evidence is scant but some of this is likely due to the unsavory nature of such acts and the possibility recordkeepers removed the information. Also, discovering historical documentation of anything slave-related from this time is difficult. Spotty census data, dispersed library records, and the lack of digital availability are factors in the difficulty of uncovering empirical data.
Some slavers set their elderly and disabled property free and sent them to Southern cities. This indirect manner of killing enslaved people meant abandoning them with no financial or community support. These people soon perished. Enslavers used this strategy was so much that strict legislation against manumission precluded this practice. This legislation ostensibly protected old and disabled slaves but also insulated the public from the expense of maintaining them.
Slaveholders also abandoned elderly and disabled slaves without sending them away from the plantation. Instead, when enslaved people could no longer work, mainly due to old age or blindness, their white keepers housed them in remote areas in primitive shelters to live alone and fend for themselves. Starvation and death due to disease or the elements were generally the outcome and likely intended to be.
Questions arise when one examines such repugnant episodes in the history of the United States. Repression of education of these truths further insulates people from a fulsome awareness of the history of slavery and race. Such endeavors now fall under the tribal discussion of critical race theory. Legislation outlawing instruction and debate about race bolsters white supremacy and its attendance illnesses. The stain of slavery and its spawn of racism and bigotry will not diminish until a full airing. Deferring such is akin to the series of iterative political compromises in the runup to the Civil War.
The presentation of Confederate symbols in the United States is particularly troubling and an affront to many parties. First, such an exhibition insults people of color and diminishes all humanity. Second, confederate flags are an implicit endorsement of slavery, eugenics, institutionally-sponsored murder, and an insult to all that is good about humanity. Third, preserving places of honor in public spaces for statues of famous Confederates provides an explicit state endorsement of such horrors.
The white nationalist excuse ‘heritage not hate,’ properly translated, means ‘heritage of hate.’
Michael Donnelly investigates societal concerns with an untribal approach - to limit the discussion to the facts derived from primary sources so the reader can make more informed decisions.