11 May 2011

David Koch Won’t Answer How Many Homes He Owns

David Koch appeared pleased as House Speaker John Boehner escalated GOP attacks on the White House during a speech in New York City this week. Koch, after all, told reporters after the raid on Osama Bin Laden that the president is a “hardcore socialist” and that Obama is “scary to

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10 May 2011

Pentagon to White House, American People on Afghanistan: Take a Hike

The Pentagon is working the press again, this time in support of a so-called withdrawal plan that would break a promise made to the American people by their president. According to The Wall Street Journal:

“U.S. military officers in Afghanistan have drawn up preliminary proposals to withdraw as many as 5,000 troops from the country in July and as many as 5,000 more by the year’s end…”

This joke of a “withdrawal” plan isn’t anything remotely approaching a real drawdown. It’s less than a 10 percent reduction in U.S. forces in Afghanistan over 6 months. It puts the Pentagon squarely at odds both with the stated desires of the White House and the very clearly articulated will of the American people. If you agree, sign Rethink Afghanistan’s petition to get the troops out of Afghanistan.

First, let’s remember what the White House said on this:

“After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home….[O]ur troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended — because the nation that I’m most interested in building is our own.”–President Barack Obama, Dec. 1, 2009.

“I’m confident that the withdrawal will be significant. People will say this is a real process of transition; this is not just a token gesture.”–President Barack Obama, April 15, 2011.

“In July of 2011, you’re going to see a whole lot of people moving out, bet on it.”–Vice President Joe Biden, qtd. in Jonathan Alter’s The Promise.

The American people are and have been crystal-clear about their expectations for a drawdown for months now.

  • Rasmussen Reports’ latest polling (published on May 9, 2011) shows that 56 percent of likely voters want troops brought home within a year, and more than half of those want all troops withdrawn immediately. The number of likely voters who want troops home within a year has increased by four percentage points since the beginning of March.
  • A Pew Research poll taken May 5-8 shows that 49 percent of Americans want troops removed from Afghanistan “ASAP.”
  • An NBC News poll taken May 5-7 shows that 56 percent of Americans disapprove of leaving some troops in Afghanistan until 2014.

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05 May 2011

With $42 Billion And 7 Homes, Why Are The Kochs Buying Our Democracy?

The Koch brothers had plenty of places to party after their triumphs last November. They might’ve celebrated at any one of their multiple homes in five states worth a total of $105.9 million.

And that’s not including the Koch’s two-story single family home that David Koch bought for his children as a play house.

The billionaire brothers who brought you Tea Party groups like Americans for Prosperity and anti-worker governors like Scott Walker and John Kasich are now attacking some of the most vulnerable Americans like Susan Montalbano and Wendy and Jerry McDowell.

Each one has a different story, but each is united against the Kochs and their drive to buy our democracy.

“They don’t want to see government money spent on people they feel are beneath being taken care of,” Jerry McDowell says in the video.

The New York Times heard Jerry’s comments and published an exclusive about Koch Brothers Exposed and what we’re trying to achieve.

We went on offense to make this video. We went right up to the Kochs’ doorsteps to ask, why are you spending millions to buy our democracy?

Watch what happens, then add your voice to our movement by posting a picture, caption or both to the Koch brothers house party.

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04 May 2011

Secretary Clinton, Bitter-Ender On Afghanistan War

Osama Bin Laden is dead. You may have heard. There’s a major groundswell underway to force a rethink of the Afghanistan War in the aftermath, but some in Washington, D.C. refuse to change course. Case in point, here’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, failing to seize the opportunity to change direction in her remarks about Bin Laden’s death and the war:

“In Afghanistan, we will continue taking the fight to al-Qaida and their Taliban allies, while working to support the Afghan people as they build a stronger government and begin to take responsibility for their own security… Our message to the Taliban remains the same. You cannot wait us out, you cannot defeat us, but you can make the choice to abandon al Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process.”

Translation: Business as usual in Afghanistan, move along. Her remarks promise more of the same broken policies that have kept us mired in the Afghan much for a decade now. Clinton’s tough talk and saber-rattling at the Taliban in her full remarks won’t lead to real reconciliation or clear the paths for peace talks, and it won’t bring troops any closer to home. That’s not where most Americans were while Bin Laden was still at large, and it’s certainly not where they are now that he’s gone, as evidenced this week by the tens of thousands of people signing our petition to bring troops home.

Think about it. Al-Qaeda is driven from Afghanistan, according to General Petraeus. Osama Bin Laden is dead. How do you justify to the American people the continued deployment of their loved ones in Afghanistan and the $2 billion we’re spending to occupy the country?

Are you going to sell them on the benefits of supporting the corrupt, feckless Karzai Administration?

Will the American people suddenly turn around and support a massive troop deployment they already opposed in huge numbers while Bin Laden was still at large?

We doubt it.

Secretary Clinton may be trying to look tough, but she and the others failing to see Bin Laden’s death as a major pivot point are severely out of step with the people they’re supposed to represent.

When news broke that President Obama was about to announce the killing of Osama Bin Laden, we posted the following on our Rethink Afghanistan Facebook page:

“President Obama is about to announce Osama Bin Laden is dead. Click ‘like’ if you think it’s time to get the troops home.”

About 2,000 people clicked “Like” within 12 hours.

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24 Apr 2011

What Would Abbie Hoffman Do To Stop The Koch Brothers?

He levitated the Pentagon, brought down Lyndon B. Johnson, shamed Richard Nixon, challenged Wall Street and pioneered a cultural revolution.

Sometimes I still hear his Brooklyn meets Boston accent when I think about Abbie Hoffman, his family or his legacy. I directed “Steal This Movie” to capture what I consider to be Abbie’s greatest gift: using satire and culture to impact and inspire people to take action. “Steal This Movie” was the last narrative film I did, and Abbie inspires me to this day.

Abbie died 22 years ago this month and that’s got me thinking about what he would do to stop the Koch brothers.

Tell me at my Koch Brothers Exposed campaign Facebook page.

Remember when he nominated a pig for president at the 1968 Democratic National Convention? Whether it was the Vietnam War, income inequality or environmental causes, Abbie always struck the right note.

That’s how I first heard his name. His action on Wall Street – where he literally threw cash down to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange – merged intrigue and interest with activism in a way no one had even conceived of. He believed in never making it boring, which is advice I’ve followed as a young New Yorker picketing and protesting lunch counter segregation at the Harlem Woolworth’s, and later as a director and political activist.

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05 Apr 2011

How Much Are You Paying In Taxes For War This Year?

While millions of Americans are out of work or struggling to pay their bills, our government is spending billions of dollars a week on a war we don’t support in Afghanistan. At no time is this more apparent than on Tax Day, which is coming up on April 18.

Use our new Afghanistan War Tax Calculator to find out how much of your income taxes will be spent on war.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once famously said, “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” But unfortunately, they’re also what we pay when our elected officials make huge, expensive mistakes, and in this case, use lots of expensive weapons to kill people. According to our friends at the National Priorities Project, 27.4 percent of our income taxes will go to pay for the Afghanistan War and other military spending. Already the taxpayer is on the hook for $107.3 billion just for this year, and just for the hugely expensive Afghanistan War. Those billions of dollars are supposed to help us build up our community and lay the groundwork for a brighter future for our children but, instead, they’re being used to fight a war the American people don’t support.

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31 Mar 2011

Five Worst Things the Koch Brothers Have Done. Vote!

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The billionaire Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to gain political influence and change America. Their work and spending is driven by the goal of increasing their own profit through decreasing regulations. The expansive and diverse nature of their efforts makes it overwhelming to keep tabs of all they’ve done that has caused harm. And that’s why Brave New Foundation is going to keep connecting the dots and telling the full story of what they’ve done to our country.

Our work at Brave New Films has always focused on the best way to tell the full story, to connect all the moving pieces and to highlight how one example of a problem in our democracy is always representative of a larger problem. Our producers did this with Outfoxed, where they exposed the unbalanced propaganda that is Fox News. And they did this with Wal-Mart, where they uncovered the damage done to our country by the high cost of low prices. In Iraq For Sale, they exposed the war profiteering and they were on the frontline of questioning the reasons for war in Rethink Afghanistan. With Sick for Profit, they fought against insurance company greed in the battle for health care. And they worked to stop the History Channel from hosting fiction and smearing President Kennedy.

And now we aim our focus at the Koch brothers. ?With a net worth of $43 billion the Kochs have already spent decades of their lives and over $324 million of their wealth exerting their influence.

The Kochs accomplish their goals by funding a massive array of right wing front groups, think tanks and tea party efforts. They largely operate outside of the public eye, and target their funding to infiltrate public opinion, the media, judicial decisions and legislation. Over three dozen organizations are funded by the brothers, and they spend additional money lobbying and backing political candidates.

Everything the Kochs do is to fight for a country free from protections and any degree of a social safety net for working Americans. The Kochs are not the only uber-wealthy in America who are using their money to buy political power that will increase their profits, but they are a key example through which to tell this story.

As a starting place of exposing the Kochs, we thought it would be useful to compile a video outlining the top five worst things the Koch brothers have done.

As the video outlines, there are a lot of “worst of” moments the Koch brothers have already created. Here is a rundown of the top five covered within the video.

Oil Spills

Koch Industries have made much of their money in the oil business. In 2000 they were fined the largest amount yet imposed upon a company under federal law. The $30 million fine was paid to resolve claims related to more than 300 oil spills in over six states, and an additional $5 million was ordered to be spent on environmental projects.

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21 Mar 2011

Why Do Politicians Want To Cut Jobs? Budget Cuts Equal Job Cuts.

We are in a painful recession. Too often it seems like DC hears more about the concern of billionaires who don’t want to lose their tax cuts, and too little about the parent of two who works long hours and barely is getting by. And yet Congress votes on whether the billionaire will have more, and whether the working class parent will lose his or her job. These are the votes presently occurring, and which are being treated like a drawn out political game.

The proposed Federal budget cuts are turning into another political sideshow. The process of the budget is being treated as a chess game, a battle over politics and procedure, and one that may go on for a long time still, narrated by talking heads throughout.

If you are an American in need of a job, or one afraid that your job will be cut in the budget proposals, it isn’t just a DC soap opera. The reverberations of the proposed cuts are drastic and personal. States and cities throughout the country feel the impact of the cuts through the stories of those waiting with every news cycle to hear whether their job, or hope of a job, will be slashed.

The City of Los Angeles is a perfect example of this harm. Los Angeles is already affected by the recession with a whopping 14.5% unemployment.

The proposed federal budget cuts are not abstract to Los Angeles. They would eliminate funding for job creation projects, projects needed to help Vets find work, and they could wipe out training services for youth hoping to find skills, or the homeless, hoping to break the cycle of poverty.

In Los Angeles, the community is not sitting back and letting these proposed cuts happen without a fight. Next Tuesday, March 23rd, Angelinos will rally at the Federal Building in Downtown Los Angeles to say no to such cuts. Cutting jobs is not the answer to recession budgeting. It’s time that our government prioritized working people over billionaires.

If democracy is to work, we have to hope that Wisconsin and Los Angeles, and the other communities that have had enough, send messages strong enough to penetrate the walls of Capitol Hill. It’s time our government support those struggling to get by, and not just those with the money to access power in private backrooms. It’s time we make it know: budget cuts equal job cuts. And America simply can’t afford to cut anymore jobs.

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10 Mar 2011

The Koch Brothers Exposed

Today Brave New Foundation announces our latest campaign. A campaign where we will take on one of the single greatest threats to our democracy: The Koch Brothers.

With Outfoxed, we exposed the unbalanced propaganda that is Fox News.

With Wal-Mart we uncovered the damage done to our country by the high cost of low prices.

We exposed the war profiteering in Iraq For Sale, and we were on the frontline of questioning what we are doing, and doing wrong, in Rethink Afghanistan.

We fought against insurance company greed in the battle for health care with Sick for Profit.

We halted the history channel from smearing President Kennedy.

And now we aim our focus at the Koch brothers.

With a net worth of 43 Billion the Kochs have already spent decades of their lives and over 324 Million of their wealth exerting their influence. The Kochs accomplish their goals by funding a massive array of right wing front groups, think tanks and tea party efforts. They largely operate outside of the public eye, and target their funding to infiltrate public opinion, the media, judicial decisions and legislation. Over three dozen organizations are funded by the brothers, and they spend additional money lobbying and backing conservative candidates. Everything the Kochs do is to fight for a country free from protections and any degree of a social safety net for working Americans.

You might recognize names of some of the organizations that the Koch brothers fund. Americans for Prosperity is their Tea Party effort. They fund the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Reason Foundation, the Institute for Justice, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and many many more. Through their massive funding efforts, they have fought against health care and are fighting against protecting social security, as well as fighting efforts to halt climate change, and fighting against LGBT rights, Immigration rights, unemployment insurance, environmental protections, the rights of unions to organize and educational opportunity, just to name a few areas they focus on.

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25 Feb 2011

Fire Lt. General Caldwell

By Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe The latest general to find himself excoriated in the pages of Rolling Stone, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, should resign immediately for using psychological operations, commonly known as “psy-ops” against U.S. lawmakers visiting Afghanistan. If he will not resign immediately, President Obama should fire him.

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