OTHER ACTORS

Robert (Bob) Murray

 

If the Koch brothers are oil barons, Robert (Bob) Murray is their counterpart working with the Trump administration to revive the coal industry.

 

Robert Murray is the CEO of America’s largest privately held coal company. Murray Energy produced a 16 point ‘wish’ list of regulatory overhauls affecting the Departments of Labor, EPA & others. The Trump administration has completed or is on track to complete most of the 16 action items. Murray Energy donated $1 million to America First Action and $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund.

The letter on Murray Energy Corp.'s letterhead was addressed to VP Mike Pence and outlines a 16-point action plan in order of priority:

  • Eliminate Clean Power Plan

  • Withdraw from & suspend EPA’s Green House Gases ‘Endangerment Finding’ implementation

  • Eliminate Tax Credit for windmills & solar panels

  • Withdraw from Paris Climate Accord

  • End Electric Utility Maximum Achievable Technology & Ozone regulations

  • Fund development of clean coal technologies

  • Overhaul Dept. of Labor Mine Safety & Health Administration

  • Cut EPA Staff by at least half

  • Overturn cross-state Air Pollution Rule

  • Revise [effectively eliminate] Dept. of Labor Coal Dust regulation

  • Fund medical care & pensions for all union represented coal miners whether orphaned from company bankruptcies & mine closures or retired

  • Overturn Dept. of Labor Pattern of Violations Rule

  • Appoint conservative Justices to SCOTUS

  • Replace Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member who favor Obama administration actions

  • Replace members of the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors who favor mandates of Obama administration

  • Replace National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) members to eliminate anti-employer bias [in other words eliminate pro-employee bias]

Read the entire Letter here: 

 

 

THE CENTER FOR NATIONAL POLICY (CNP)

 

The Center for National Policy (CNP) is a secretive conservative organization whose members include think tanks, media outlets, far-right religious leaders, organized crime members, white supremacists and the NRA. The CNP have cultivated a united ultra conservative movement to assure, by 2020, that a government who embraces their ideologies would restore libertarian economic dominance, a militaristic American society, and the Judeo-Christian religion under the Constitution.

 

Because of the large number of extremists and hate groups that are members of the CNP, they are on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Hatewatch list. [13]

 

 

The CNP’s 2014 Vision Statement

 

“A united conservative movement to assure, by 2020, policy leadership and governance that restores religious
 and economic freedom, a strong national defense, and Judeo-Christian values under the Constitution.”

 

The CNP’s 2014 Mission Statement

 

“To advance freedom by bringing together business, cultural, defense, educational, religious and public policy leaders to address the great issues confronting America.”

THE CNP'S BELIEFS

 

Limited Government

WE believe in limiting the size and scope
of government to allow Americans greater
freedom to reach their fullest potential.

 

Traditional Values

WE believe the Founding Fathers created
this nation based upon Judeo-Christian
values and that our culture flourishes when
we uphold them.

 

Strong National Defense

 

WE believe that this great experiment called
America, a nation founded on the premise that
"all men are created equal," is worth defending.

 

EDUCATION REFORM and THE CNP, BETSY DeVOS, KOCH BROTHERS

 

Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Secretary of Education, is calling for “a paradigm shift” and a “fundamental reorientation” of the way Americans think of school and the federal government’s role in the nation’s educational system.  Both Trump and DeVos have declared the Common Core and No Child Left Behind initiatives as failures. [19]

 

The DeVos family has been a major donor to the CNP whose members envision Judeo-Christian values under the Constitution.  The CNP have a detailed plan for destroying the Department of Education. They want education reform adopting the historic definition of education as defined by the1828 Noah Webster Dictionary. [13]

 

1828 Webster's Dictionary Definition of Education

The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. education  comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and
habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on
parents and guardians who neglect these duties. [20]

 

 

CNP Education Reform Report

"This report was developed by the Education Committee of the Council for National Policy. It is intended to serve as a resource for education reforms by the new administration of the Department of Education under the leadership
of Mrs. Becky DeVos, Secretary-Designate. We submit this report to the Donald Trump/Betsy DeVos administration with the hope that our organization may be of assistance with the restoration of education in America, in accordance
with historic Judeo-Christian principles which formed the basis of instruction in America’s schools for its first 300 hundred years. We are pleased to serve at your pleasure."  Signed Bob McEwen, Executive Director, CNP                 

Link to full report: 

 

This wonderful blog post written by Posted by Clarissa Atkinson on September 4, 2017 is full of information that gives a tremendous amount of insight into Betsy DeVos life and what drives her. Well, we know what she stands for, but a blog post like this one goes much further to explain why.

 

"I posted here in April about Trump’s dismal choice of a Secretary of Education who neither knows nor cares about public schools, and about the troubling connections between her educational agenda and certain responses to Brown v. Board of Education back in the 1950s. While I fumed over Betsy DeVos’s ignorance and indifference, I began to wonder: what does she know and care about? The results of further investigation are not encouraging.

DeVos grew up in Holland, Michigan – a town settled in the middle of the 19thcentury by Dutch immigrants who left home because they disapproved of the modernizing and liberalizing tendencies then at work in the Dutch Reformed Church of the Netherlands. Their little immigrant church in the United States split again only ten years later, in 1857, when – once more – a small group of dissenters departed from brethren who had become too liberal. These were the founders of the Christian Reformed Church of Betsy DeVos and her family; today, the church’s website explains that the 19th-century break was provoked by the “moral decay and theological liberalism” of the church that was left behind.

Holland has grown into a large, prosperous city but remains in some respects as the early settlers might have wished, still dominated by descendants of the founding families and by their church. Betsy Prince DeVos, who was born into one of those families and married into another, attended Holland Christian (private, religious) schools and graduated from Calvin College. (See Erica Green’s article on DeVos’ education.) Her father, Edgar Prince, built and managed a successful auto parts company, and her brother Erik founded the private security company Blackwater USA, of infamous memory in Iraq (re-branded post-scandal as XE Services in 2009, sold to a hedge fund, and now known as Academi). Most recently, Erik Prince has been urging President Trump to privatize the war in Afghanistan, using an army of mercenaries.  The New York Times recently went so far as to publish his self-serving Op-Ed on the matter. (Summary of media outcry at CommonDreams.)

Betsy Prince married Dick DeVos, son of the billionaire Richard DeVos, co-creator of Amway (now known as Alticor). Richard DeVos Sr. has written several books about himself and his opinions, including such notable titles as Compassionate Capitalism and Believe! God, America, Free Enterprise. His memoir, Simply Rich, asserts that success in business and private life arises out of hard work, a positive attitude, and the “greater warmth, surer sense of purpose and meaning, and deeper bond” he finds among Christians of his own persuasion. Amway has been described as a quasi-religious organization and is at least a business steeped in an evangelical ethos – one that has also been described, and more than once investigated, as a pyramid scheme. DeVos seems to perceive no conflict between piety and cutthroat capitalism and to feel no hesitation in publishing a self-satisfied hymn to himself, his family, and his fortune. A similar aura of self-satisfaction, slightly more veiled but equally clueless, surrounds the words and actions of his daughter-in-law.

It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to interpret the behavior and attitudes of the DeVos family without resorting to Max Weber and his best-known work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905). I have not thought about Weber since graduate school (and not much then), and I’m aware that he has been challenged, revised, and contradicted, but – very briefly – here’s an attempt to summarize the points that seem to shout “DeVos!” Interested readers should look up Weber and his interpreters – or at the very least, SparkNotes.

Weber argued for a relationship between the rise of capitalism in early modern Europe and what he called “the Protestant ethic” – a particular code of values that he detected in some strains of Calvinism. In place of medieval other-worldly values (poverty and chastity among them), Protestant reformers celebrated worldly “callings”: marriage, family life, and worldly work were recognized as valuable and virtuous. Business, even lending money for profit, became an admirable pursuit. Furthermore, Calvin’s emphasis on predestination – on the action of Providence in choosing some for salvation according to an inscrutable divine plan – left believers anxious for assurance about their chances in the next world. In medieval times, the faithful could rely on “works” such as masses, prayers, and charitable giving to help them to heaven; now they had to look around for assurance, for signs and signals of God’s favor. Worldly success seemed just such a sign: God must have chosen you, and you must be virtuous, if you were doing well. Prosperity and godliness joined hands; the ragged, emaciated Desert Fathers disappeared from religious imagery. Needless to say, this is an extreme oversimplification of Calvin, Calvinism, and Max Weber! But when one examines either Simply Rich or the behavior and attitudes of Betsy DeVos, it’s hard to miss the close association of money – lots of money – and a particular style of Christian piety.

 

For Calvin and his theological descendants, salvation was also visible in the mission of the church in the world; predestination did not imply passivity. According to its website, the Christian Reformed Church of the DeVos family still is called “to take on the world for Christ – to use Christian schools, institutions, and organizations to make God’s word a reality everywhere.” The church points with pride to the emphasis on education that has distinguished its mission from its founding in 1857 right down to today. Betsy DeVos enthusiastically represents that agenda. She has identified herself specifically as a disciple of Abraham Kuyper, a 19th-century Dutch theologian whose legacy includes this striking quote: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” Divine domination – not by some vague deity but by a particularly-defined neo-Calvinist God – is the ground of the Christian Reformed mandate to “extend Christ’s leadership over all . . . to extend God’s kingdom into society.”

When that activist mission is accompanied by the unquestioning confidence that wealthy, successful people must be right as well as righteous, a devastating combination is created. Insularity makes it worse. Betsy DeVos has been sheltered from the cradle from the financial worries of most Americans, and not much exposed to people, ideas, and circumstances outside her own community. It’s not only that she and her family never had to pay off student loans; it’s unlikely that they even knew people with student loans. In a recent display of indifference to the torments experienced by some young borrowers, our Department of Education is attempting to block rules established by the Obama administration to allow students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges and universities to erase their federal loans. On July 6, eighteen state attorneys general filed suit against DeVos and the Department; it remains to be seen whether they will succeed.

DeVos donates enormous amounts of money, time, and energy to causes that are important to her; even her critics recognize that privilege has never kept her from hard work. Religion, politics, and philanthropy have merged seamlessly in her career: she chaired the Michigan Republican Party for several years and served on the boards of the right-wing religious “liberty in education” groups Acton Institute and the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She also chaired the Alliance for School Choice – an umbrella organization that incorporates three older entities with similar missions, as stated in the title: choice. To supporters of the Alliance, “choice” means any and all alternatives to traditional public education – religious schools, private schools, charter schools, magnet schools, homeschooling.

Among the many similar organizations with which DeVos has been associated, I single out the Alliance because it was launched on May 17, 2004 – the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision. That is surely no coincidence. No one with an interest in education would have been unaware of that date, which was marked across the United States with celebrations of the anniversary along with thoughtful discussions of the meaning and consequences of the decision. (In 2004, two distinguished thinkers on matters of law, race, and education – Derrick Bell and Charles Ogletree – published their reflections on the half-century of change wrought by Brown.)

At first glance the Alliance has no obvious connection to the anniversary, but as I puzzled over the selection of that historic date for its launch, I found a clue in DeVos’s mystifying description of historically black colleges and universities (HCBU) as “pioneers of school choice.” They were founded, of course, precisely because African American students, excluded from so many educational institutions, had no choice. DeVos seems determined to insist that “choice” means what she wants it to mean – anything that is not public education. Her remarks on HBCU were widely ridiculed, and when she spoke at (historically black) Bethune-Cookman University, many of the graduating students turned their backs. None of this had any obvious effect on the Secretary, who seems to accept scorn and ridicule as aspects of the crusader’s lot.

However, if we turn the question around, as is so often necessary in the looking-glass world of 2017, there are connections among issues of race, segregation, and “choice.” In the 1950s, a majority of white Virginians were willing to kill public education entirely rather than follow the Court’s order to desegregate. They did so by abandoning their public schools and creating new institutions for white students with the help of public money in the form of tuition grants and tax credits. I have argued that the mechanisms of “school choice” were created and developed in the wake of Brown, and maybe that’s what the Alliance and its chairwoman celebrated on May 17, 2004. Can the connections really be that simple – and appalling?

The “choice” to which DeVos is committed belongs to a free-market concept of education in which schools compete for students and for the public money that follows them. Schools behave like businesses – indeed, many of them (the for-profit charters) are businesses. Arguing for “choice,” DeVos used the analogy of parents picking a school for their child just as they might pick Uber or Lyft over a taxi, for a better deal; it has been pointed out that public transportation was not assumed to be an option. Michigan, where DeVos has worked for years on behalf of “choice” and vouchers, claims more for-profit charter schools than any other state. Presumably, the Secretary hopes to lead the rest of the country in the same direction.

The guiding principle of “school choice” is that the market will work as it ideally does in free enterprise, driving out “bad” schools and favoring “good” ones. All kinds of schools – including, especially, religious schools – are welcome in the marketplace and supported by public money. The voucher system, in which tax money follows students, is an integral plank in DeVos’s platform. But in fact it is not only failing schools that are driven out, but also “failing” students, “undesirables” whose needs are expensive and who do not reward their schools with high test scores.

Charter schools vary widely and there are some fine ones, but they tend to serve affluent communities more successfully than poor ones. They also tend toward racial re-segregation, and without strict regulations governing fair access and accountability, they contribute to inequality.

At her Senate hearing DeVos was willing to say that all schools should be “accountable” but refused to say that they must be equally accountable. When pushed to state whether schools that accept public money could discriminate against certain students, she responded that states had the right to decide. At a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing last May, when Rep. Katherine Clark (D, Mass.) asked the Secretary whether a voucher school could discriminate against LGBT students (or even those who come from families where there is “homosexual or bisexual activity”!), DeVos reiterated her belief that such matters belonged to the states. When Clark pushed her on whether schools should be allowed to refuse to admit – for example – African American students, DeVos continued to equivocate by referring even that question to the states. Shades of 1950s Virginia!

Issues of discrimination on racial, sexual, or religious grounds are not, sad to say, hypothetical. In my own home state of Massachusetts, our attorney general recently had to order a charter school to stoppunishing African American students for their hairstyles.

Betsy DeVos is frequently in the news; recently, her Department of Education appointed a former dean at for-profit DeVry University to head up the agency responsible for investigating fraud at for-profit colleges. He was appointed even though – or, one wonders, perhaps because? – DeVry was charged by the FTC with misinforming students about their income and employment prospects and forced into a $100 million settlement.  As Senator Chris Murphy (D, Conn.) said, it was “akin to nominating influenza to be the Surgeon General.”

The list goes on and on; the DeVos agenda is full and distinct and might better be named a crusade. Consistency and determination can be admirable, but in DeVos they are frightening: she seems set on the destruction of public education.

School children, college students, and young borrowers are already suffering, and they will suffer much more if the disastrous Trump/DeVos budget goes through. I note that the budget, announced on May 23, 2017, was leaked to the press on May 17th – another anniversary of Brown. Thanks in part to the strategy and tactics developed in the cause of educational segregation, we are likely to see a new generation of youthful victims of the problematic concept of “choice” as it exists within the narrow vision and missionary zeal of the Secretary of Education. [15]

It's difficult to imagine idolizing anyone because they wish to stone someone to death.

"It would not be a stretch to say that Ahmanson and members of the Prince and DeVos families are part of a Dominionist cabal, using extreme wealth to reorient American government toward extremist Christian doctrine. They regularly attend The Gathering, a “shadowy, powerful network” of hard-right Christian funders, according to an investigation published in the Daily Beast.

“The Gathering is as close to a ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ as you’re likely to find,” Jay Michaelson reported. Attendees are the “wealthiest conservative to hard-right evangelical philanthropists in America and have led the campaigns to privatize public schools, redefine ‘religious liberty,’ fight same-sex marriage, [and] fight evolution…” he wrote. It was at The Gathering where Betsy DeVos said she wants to “advance God’s Kingdom” through public schools. It was there that she and her husband said that school choice was a way to reverse the history of public schools displacing the Church as the center of communities.

DeVos and Ahmanson are each doing their part as religious warriors in the crusade. With the help of a compliant Congress, DeVos is exploding the barrier that historically separated American public education from religion. She has promoted school vouchers to pay for religious schools, withdrawn Obama Administration guidance that protected transgender students, and is trying to give churches the chance to reclaim their place at the center of communities by expanding school choice." [16]

 

THE CONNECTION TO HOLLAND

 

“More than 150 years ago, Dutch immigrants from a conservative Protestant sect chose western Michigan as the setting for this idealized replica of Holland…They wanted to keep American influences away from their orthodox community.” Named Holland, Betsy DeVos grew up there.

 

In 1846, an intensely devout Calvinist clergyman named A.C. van Raalte led several hundred settlers from the Netherlands to the United States. The settlers, a group of mostly poor farmers known as the “Seceders” rebelled against the Dutch government when it tried to modernize the state Calvinist church including ending discriminatory laws against Catholics and Jews.

And just like back home, their church was essentially their government, influencing almost every part of farmers’ lives.

Eleven years later, the group split and 1/3 one-third of the Dutch community broke off from the Reformed Church and created the Christian Reformed Church. The split came after disagreements over education. Members who stayed in the Reformed Church in America supported public schools; Christian Reformed Church members believed education was solely the responsibility of families—and explicitly not the government—­and sent their kids to religious schools. Many church members opposed unions 75 years later, which they viewed as socialist intrusions that diminished the authority of the church and contributed to bigger government." [17]

 

While DeVos works on the federal legislative front to dismantle the Department of Education and public education, the Koch brothers are working from the bottom up at local and state levels and directly with voters. The Libre Initiative targets the Latino community and is a prime example. They are being swayed to support privatized education with the promise their children will be more successful if they do.

LIBERTARIANISM

 

The Koch network has cultured a vicious, hybrid form of Libertarianism and are spreading it globally, literally like a deadly global virus. The US Libertarian party created the International Alliance of Libertarian Parties. They are moving conservative parties around the world further right. David Koch's Libertarian platform in the 1980 presidential election won only 1% of the vote.

 

Libertarian policies are extremely unpopular. Nancy MacLean, historian and author of Democracy in Chains said their policies went too far even for James Buchanan and they eventually parted ways. They see the poor which is heavily represented by POC as a drain on resources. The poor, the elderly, the sick and disabled will all pay the heaviest price if the Koch brothers succeed in achieving a Constitutional Convention. 

 

They feel absolutely no social responsibility or compassion toward any disadvantaged group. If you want something or need something that you can’t pay for yourself, according to them, you better get motivated enough to work and earn enough to pay for it or die trying.

 

They are philanthropists who present themselves as ‘good Samaritans helping Americans push back against government greed. In exchange, Americans gratefully join together to help to tear down obstacles and further the goals of their benefactors. They are easily persuaded to put pressure on their government legislators to adopt Koch driven policies and if they are adopted, these Americans will receive none of the benefits they were promised.

The term philanthropy in the context of the far-tight movement is inappropriate. Religion, politics, and philanthropy have merged seamlessly.

DARK MONEY, Political Non-Profits and Super PACs

The Koch brothers for example have created or are closely connected with a massive, highly organized network of political non-profits.  To give you an idea of the vast amount of money the Koch network spends on political campaigns, together with 300 other donors, they spent close to $900 million on the 2016 elections. By comparison, they spent almost $400 million on the 2012 elections. [18]

Dark Money is money that is spent in various ways, including on ad campaigns to influence voters or on political campaigns to influence elections and legislation. Donors are not disclosed and the original source of money can be difficult to trace.  Dark Money is money usually spent by a political non-profit or a super PAC.

 

Political non-profits aren’t legally obligated to disclose their donors and are considered Dark Money when they don’t.

 

Super PACs are obligated to disclose their donors. If they receive money from political non-profits and “shell” corporations that haven’t disclosed their donors, then the Super Pac is considered to be a Dark Money group. Super Pac’s can accept unlimited contributions from political non-profits and “shell” corporations. The Koch brothers, CNP, and all of the far-right groups affiliated with them set up a labyrinth of foundations and other organization to obscure donor identities. 

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