Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Rally to Restore Balance

Throughout history, countries have tried to manage tensions between the few wealthy and the many other. It's not been true of every culture, but enough to call it a trend.

The U.S. has existed this way from its inception. For all their talk of freedom and liberty, the founding fathers created an underclass with fewer rights than they had. Even as more classes of people gained full citizenship rights, there has always been a vulnerable underclass.

Our politics has been characterized by tension between business/haves and labor/have nots. Haves are few in number but have always had more money and more resources to push their agenda. Have Nots don't have money or resources, but they are far more numerous.

I'm intentionally not saying Democrats and Republicans because these are labels that can change meaning over time. It's not about the history of a party, it's about the history of wealth trying to cement its hold on power.

When our politics are balanced, the rich don't have enough wealth to shut out the public, and the public is not organized enough to shut out the wealthy. Our economy is the most effective and prosperous then.

When the economy has shifted too far toward wealth, as it has now, the rest of the people need to come together to oppose wealth and push a more public agenda. The wealthy know this, and so they have set out to prevent this from happening.

The propaganda of the wealthy has pitted demographic group against demographic group. They have discouraged voting. They have portrayed the opposition government, the traditional champion of public rights against the excesses of the wealthy, as the enemy of the people. The mainstream media, that other traditional champion of public rights, has been meekly lured to support the wealthy through the combination of pressure from the Fox machine, the lure of business advertising dollars, and the additional lure of post-Citizens United campaign dollars. Anyone who dares disagree with the house spin on events is painted as biased, extremist, and unpatriotic.

This is the world in 2010: a world in which the wealthy have taken power and used the lessons of history to prevent a restoration of balance, even when that balance would benefit them as well. Before we can rebalance the economy, we need to do two very different things. We need to speak up and make the truth heard, and we need to join with our brainwashed brethren until we have a critical mass that can topple the wealthy.

These are two very different movements that should not be led by the same people. One is about confrontation and the other is about harmony. One shames the opposition, and the other makes it possible for members of both sides to save face.

To shout down the false propagandists, we have people like @shoq and @keitholbermann. They are passionate, they are angry, occasionally they are hyperbolic, but they are always right. Through them, I met more polite people like Rachel @maddow, @ezraklein, @karoli, @cdashiell, @StrandedWind, and more. But it's the leaders who inspire others to get involved and get the word out, and they take the heat for being in front.

Creating a critical mass of public unity is as essential as getting the truth out. Yet what major public figure other than President Obama have you heard calling for unity between sniping political groups? Who is out there building a bridge and creating a forum allowing people to work together who currently can't even listen to each other?

Jon Stewart has stepped in to fill the role of neutral unifier. He brought a quarter of a million people together in person and more watching at home. His primary message was that we're all pretty good people, we already get along and work together every day, and we can work out politics too. This is a great message and the first step to creating a critical mass of the electorate to oppose the wealthy. Positioning this message right before the election reminds voters not to be taken in by the divisive ads, which mostly come from the right.

I loved the traffic analogy. We are all anonymous in traffic, with little accountability to each other, and yet we cooperate. After creating that sense of commonality, he then reminded us that the real enemies are the jerks who cut in (the closest he came to demonizing any anonymous group).

Did Stewart completely ignore the fact that there are bad people out there who are doing terrible things to the public? Except for the traffic assholes, yes. However, it is not the place of the unifier to point this out, at least not at this stage. That is the place of the confrontational people. And they do a great job; may there be more of them.

Did Stewart completely strain credibility with false equivalencies between the confrontational people spreading truth and the propagandists spreading lies? Absolutely. Did he have to do this to get the brainwashed people to feel included? So they could save face? Perhaps, but I'd bet that at least Stewart felt he had to do this. And I think that Olbermann understands the purpose behind the slap, though a slap is never pleasant (and ok, the Scott Brown comment that Stewart used was hyperbolic and KO already apologized for that).

It's a gamble for Stewart to position himself as a unifier. He won't stop needling politicians who do dumb things, and right now the easiest political targets are all tea partiers. It will be difficult to move the people who seem proud to be "out of the fray" toward civic participation, which must happen to support real progress. He has laid the groundwork with talk of responsibility and doing what we have to do even when we don't want to.

We need a way for ordinary people to put aside their differences while saving face, come together, and trust each other enough to fight our common enemy. It won't happen in a confrontational environment. I don't know if Jon Stewart will be able to pull it off, but kudos to him for trying.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We Have Met The Enemy

...thanks to a leak to ThinkProgress and support by RawStory re the list of invitees to a secret strategy meeting last June called by the infamous Koch brothers to plan GOP strategy for the 2010 midterms and 2012 election.

The original list is in alphabetical order by person. For those of you who want to steer your consumer dollars away from these businesses, here is the list sorted by industry:





Jack and Rose Marie Anderson

Financial Advisor

Culver Corp, Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation- Financial Advisor

Nate and Lynda Bachman

Financial Advisor

The Bachman Group-Financial Advisor

Ken and Frayda Levy

Investment Mgmt

JLM Investment Mgmt

Cliff Asness


AQR Capital Management

Fred and Marlene Malek

Investment Mgmt

Thayer Capital Partners

Jerry and Caroline Milbank

Investment Mgmt

CEO/Principal, Milbank Winthrop & Co.

Peter Schiff and Martha O’Brien

Investment Mgmt

Schiff: Euro Pacific Capital Inc.,

Scott Kirkpatrick


Teton Capital

Jerry and Caroline Milbank

Investment Management

CEO/Principal, Milbank Winthrop & Co.

Steve and Christine Schwarzman

Financial Services

CEO/founder, Blackstone Group

Earl Wright


AMG National Trust

Cliff and Susan Yonce

Investment Banking

Goldman Sachs

Frank and Kathy Baxter


Ambassador Frank E. Baxter is Chairman Emeritus of Jefferies and Company, Inc., a global investment bank focusing on mid-cap companies.

Bill Cooper and Kristin Tollefson


CEO of TCF Financial

Tom Petrie


Co-founder of BofA Merrill Lynch Petrie Divestiture Advisors

Dennis Kuester


Retired CEO of M&I Bank

Jerry and Nanette Finger


Managing Partner, Finger Interests LTD

Charlie and Kaye Lynn Fote


Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Fotec Group LLC

Dick Strong

Investment Services

Strong/Corneliuson Capital Mgmt

Michael Sullivan

Investment Services

CR Intrinsic Investors

Lynn Tilton

Investment Management

CEO, Patriarch Partners LLC

Neil Anderson and Amy Fisher-Smith

Runs Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation

Dan and Kellie Peters

Not-for Profit

Daniel S. Peters is president of the Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio

Foster Friess


Mr. Foster Stephen Friess is the Founder and Chairman of Friess Associates, LLC

Andre Lacy


Chairman, Lacy Diversified Industries

Bill and Sarah Walton

Real Estate

Allied Capital Corp

Dick Weekley

Real Estate

Weekley Properties

Fred and Susie Wehba

Real Estate

Bentley Forbes Real Estate

Annie Dickerson

Real Estate

CBRE analyst

Nestor Weigand and Darcy Buehler

Real Estate

JP Weigand & Sons Real Estate

Larry and Lorraine Winnerman

Real Estate

Win Win Enterprises

Patrick and Paula Broe

Real Estate

Founder and CEO of Denver-based real estate asset management firm, The Broe Group

Mike and Beth Kasser

Real Estate

President, Holualoa Inc

Dick and Mary Beth Weiss

Life Insurance

Wells Fargo, Hawthorne Rances

Howard and Rhonda Wilkins


Diversified Insurance

John Childs


Chairman and CEO of J.W. Childs and Associates

Of course there are the usual suspects--Goldman, Merrill, Blackstone. But remember Peter Schiff? He was the "it" fund manager of 2008 for predicting the 2008 crash. He wasn't right about the result (he predicted investors would flock to foreign companies like the ones in his fund; instead they flocked to U.S. treasuries), but he got a lot of points for calling the fall.

Cliff Asness at AQR straddles the worlds of retail and academic finance. The Q in AQR is Quantitative, as in the long-term, growth-oriented, academically based investing that benefits both the economy and investors--the opposite of short-term speculative investment that evaporates money from the economy into bankers' pockets. And yet here is Asness included in the speculators' club. Hmmm.

What you have here is people who can not only influence thought about the economy, particularly the market, but manipulate the market to make it conform to their predictions.





Rich and Helen DeVos


Founder and CEO of Amway

Ron and Kris Erickson


Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Holiday Companies

Dick and Ethie Haworth


Head of Haworth Furniture, Multi-national corporation, 3rd largest corporate furniture company in US

Ken and Elaine Langone


Invemed, Home Depot

Tom Love


CEO, President, Love’s Country Stores

Jack and Goldie Miller


CEO/President, Quill Corp., the largest mail-order office supply retailer in the United States with revenues of $1.3B per year and EBITDA of over 20%

Rick and Sherry Sharp


Former CEO, Circuit City

Gerry and Kathryn Kingen


Red Robin restaurants, Happy Guests Int’l

Mike and Lin Simmonds


CEO, Simmonds Restaurant Mgmt

Steve and Regina Hennessy


Auto Sales





Robin and Barbara Hayes


Former NC Congressman

John and Joan Hotchkis


Board of Directors for Teach for America UC Berkeley

Ken and Randy Kendrick


Founder, Chairman, co-owner Datatel, pvt co providing software pkg for higher ed.

Don and Deede Meyers


Self Employed

Russ Roberts


Roberts, Ashby & Parrish

Teach for America is a well-respected organization that sends young college grads to teach in the most challenging public schools--a model of public service. I can't quite imagine what that org is doing on this list. Perhaps toward privatization of education?

I think the researchers who identified these people were in a bit of a hurry because some of the notes are incomplete or outdated. I added on to a few, but be on notice as you look at these.





Stan and Karen Hubbard


Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc.

Phil and Nancy Anschutz


Industrialist, Owner, Weekly Standard, Examiner newspapers

Kurt and Nancy Pfotenhauer


President of MediaSpeak Strategies/former political commentator on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC and former Senior Policy Advisor and National Spokesperson with the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign

Steve Moore


member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board

Ramesh Ponnuru


National Review magazine

Michael Barone


Fox News

Glenn Beck


Fox News

Tim Carney


Political Columnist, Washington Examiner

Glen and Diane Meakem


Radio talk host and technology multimillionaire

Tim O’Shaughnessy


Hungry Machine, Inc., doing business as, is a social discovery and cataloging network.

Susie Coelho


founder and CEO of Susie Coelho Enterprises Inc.

Bob and Mary Sue Hawk


President of Hawk Communications

Karl and Stevie Eller


Karl Crow

Think Tank

Policy Analyst Capital Research Center

Veronique de Rugy

Think Tank

Senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center

Arthur Brooks

Think Tank

President, American Enterprise Institute

Peter Wallison

Think Tank

Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

Ed Meese

Think Tank

Heritage Foundation

David and Ann Brown

Think Tank

Heritage Foundation

Susan Gore

Think Tank

Founder, Wyoming Liberty Group

James and Heather Higgins

Think Tank

Independent Women’s Forum

Ethelmae Humphreys

Think Tank

Cato Institute

Tim Phillips

Front Group

president, Americans for Prosperity

Phil and Joanna Kerpen

Front Group

VP of Policy, Americans for Prosperity

Jeff Crank

Front Group/Media

Radio Pundit and Americans For Prosperity State Director

Sean Noble

Front Group

Americans for Prosperity

Eric O’Keefe

Front Group

Sam Adams Alliance

Teresa Oelke

Front Group

State Director of Americans for Prosperity,

Mark Mix

Advocacy Group

President, National Right to Work Committee

David Chavern


Executive Vice President and COO at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Steve Twist


Rose & Allyn PR Consultants

Manley and Mary Johnson

Political Consultant

Andrew Kupersmith


MD, Cardiology Consultants

Whitney Ball


Owner of a firm that helps corporations give anonymous gifts to front groups (Money Launderer)

I love how they identify Amer for Prosperity as a front group. The "money launderer" description is mine. The Fox News people are less surprising, but the WSJ editorial board member is a clear signal (if its content wasn't clear enough) that the WSJ is no longer unbiased and no longer deserves to be respected.





David Murfin


President, Murfin Drilling Co.

Larry and Polly Nichols


Executive Chairman, Devon Energy Corp

Karen Wright


Ariel CEO

Tom Rastin


vice president of marketing and engineering, Ariel Corp

Shelby and Nell Bush


Vice President, Legal and Administration – Hillwood Energy

Corbin and Barbara Robertson


President, Quintana Minerals Corp

Alex Cranberg


Aspect Holdings, LLC – Chairman

Richard Fink

Koch Industries

Director of Georgia-Pacific, EVP of Koch Industries

Charles and Liz Koch

Koch Industries

Chase and Annie Koch

Koch Industries

David and Julia Koch

Koch Industries

Elizabeth Koch

Koch Industries

Bob and Cindy Koch

Koch Industries

Joe and Mary Moeller

Koch Industries

Vice Chairman

Richard and Leslie Gilliam


President of Cumberland Resources Corporation

Joe Craft


president, chief executive officer and director of Alliance Resource Partners LP

Kevin Crutchfield


Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Coal Sales Co., LLC.

Bob and Martha Buford


President and owner of Zenith Drilling Corporation

Alan and Lisa Boeckmann


CEO Fluor Corporation

Jim and Dorothy Patterson


Gulf Stream Petroleum

Fred and Jane Hamilton


President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of BHP Petroleum, Hamilton Oil Company and various Hamilton Oil Corporation subsid/affiliates

Dave and Melanie True



Lew and Myra Ward


Ward Petroleum Corporation engages in oil and gas exploration and production.

Don and Sue Wills


Randy and Jean Foutch


Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Laredo Petroleum, Inc.

Paul Hill


Chief Executive Officer and President of Harvard Developments Inc. since 1978.

Gerry and Priscilla O’Shaughnessy


Co-founded Geopark Holding Limited in 2002.

Jerry and Leah Fullinwider



Vice Chairman, Hillwood International Energy, L.P.

Jim and Zibbie Ferrell

Fuel Oil

Ferrellgas Partners, L.P. engages in the distribution and sale of propane and related equipment primarily in US

Melvyn and Suellen Estrin

Natural Gas

Director of WGL Holdings INC

Dave Fettig

Natural Gas

Tank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy

Bob Fettig

Natural Gas

Tank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy

Steve Fettig

Natural Gas

Tank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy





Peter Smith

Business Conglomerate

CEO, Services Group of America

Bernard and Margaret Blasingame


President and owner of Aqua Dynamics Systems, Inc

Budd and Lauri Florkiewicz


Foam Fabricators

Dan and Carolyn Heard


Executive Officer of John H. Carter Co.,

Allan and Kathy Hubbard

Chemicals and Manufacturing

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, E & A Industries, Inc.

Michael O’Shaunessy

Mfg Technology

Petters Consumer Brands, LLC develops consumer electronics and appliances.

Diane Hendricks


Husband of Ken Hendricks

Steve and Betty Bechtel


Owns the Bechtel Group (Corporation), Largest engineering company in United States

Jim and Shirley Dannenbaum


Mr. Dannenbaum, Chairman of Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation

Tim Oelke


Crossland Construction Corp

Boysie Bollinger


Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Bollinger Shipyards

Eric Crown and Isabella King

Technology Sales

Sell Technology Equipment

Dixon and Carol Doll


Co-Founder and General Partner of DCM




Bob Kohlhepp


Vice Chairman, Cintas Corp. Revenue in 2007 was $3.7 billion and net income was $335 million

Bob Luddy


President, Captive Aire Systems

Ray and Ladeline Thompson


President/CEO, Semitoolworld leader in the design, development, manufacture and support of high performance, precision chemical processing equipment.

Rick and Debra Waller


Owner, Rollmeister Inc

Durk Rorie


United Air Specialists

Pierce Marshall

Administrative Management


Art and Kathy Pope


Senior Exec, Variety Wholesaler

Lew and Suzy Meibergen

Food production

President, Johnston Enterprises/WG Johnston Grain Co

Chris Rufer

Food production

Morningstar Company, Ag processor

Gary and Kathleen Rogers

Food production

Former CEO, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream

Richard Roder and Karin Hsu

Construction Management

CEO, Cmt-Construction Management

Jim and Gayla Von Ehr


CEO, Zyvex Corp

Jay and Sally Lapeyre


Laitram Corp

Fred and Sandra Young


Diversified Search, LLC provides senior-level executive and corporate board search services in the United States and internationally. It provides recruitment services for various organizations in consumer and industrial, education, not-for-profit, arts and culture, financial and professional services, business, healthcare and human services, life sciences, media and entertainment, sports and leisure, energy and utilities, private equity, retail, and technology and communications industries.





Oliver and Carolyn Grace Jr.

Med and Telecom

President and chief executive officer of Anderson Group, Inc.,

Judson and Joyce Green

Energy and Med

Mr. Judson C. Green is the President and Chief Executive Officer of NAVTEQ Corp.

Peter Farrell


Founder of Resmed

Bill Mayer

Health Care

MD, Mayer & Cope Family Practice




Charlies and Marla Chandler

Paul and Lea Clifton

Runs Robert and Marie Hansen Family Foundation

Joe Woodford

Walter and Suzette Negley

Mina Nguyen

Preston Marshall

Elaine Marshall


Ned and Nancy Diefenthal

Tim Busch

Dino and Joan Cortopassi

Ravenell and Beth Curry

Marshall Johnson

Kyle and Kirsten Johnstone

Merritt Johnson

Gretchen Hamel

Steve and Polly Friess

Dick Farmer

John Bryan