One down

David Koch is dead.

One more malignant, poisonous criminal whose sole contribution to history is bringing the end of civilization a little closer is gone. Jane Mayer’s review of a book documenting the Koch brothers’ perfidy is appropriate reading today.

“Kochland” is important, Davies said, because it makes it clear that “you’d have a carbon tax, or something better, today, if not for the Kochs. They stopped anything from happening back when there was still time.” The book also documents how, in 2010, the company’s lobbyists spent gobs of cash and swarmed Congress as part of a multi-pronged effort to kill the first, and so far the last, serious effort to place a price on carbon pollution—the proposed “cap and trade” bill. Magnifying the Kochs’ power was their network of allied donors, anonymously funded shell groups, think tanks, academic centers, and nonprofit advocacy groups, which Koch insiders referred to as their “echo chamber.” Leonard also reports that the centrist think tank Third Way quietly worked with the Kochs to push back against efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which could have affected their business importing oil from Canada. Frequently, and by design, the Koch brothers’ involvement was all but invisible.

Others have chronicled the cap-and-trade fight well, but Leonard penetrates the inner sanctum of the Kochs’ lobbying machine, showing that, from the start, even when other parts of the company could have benefitted from an embrace of alternative energy, Koch Industries regarded any compromise that might reduce fossil-fuel consumption as unacceptable. Protecting its fossil-fuel profits was, and remains, the company’s top political priority. Leonard shows that the Kochs, to achieve this end, worked to hijack the Tea Party movement and, eventually, the Republican Party itself.

He will be remembered. Unkindly.


  1. rorschach says

    My first impulse to “One down” was to say “10000 to go”. But it is probably true that there are fascist mastheads like Murdoch, Koch, Bolsonaro, Trump and his kleptocracy, Johnson/Morrison, and there are obviously too many dumb followers to count who just do exactly that, follow.
    It’s a start anyway.

  2. JoeBuddha says

    “I did not attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” —The Hon. E. R. Hoar

  3. AndrewD says

    This is one of those occasions when i regret that Hell doesn’t exist. I can only hope his any memory of him fades very quickly

  4. F.O. says

    This concentration of power is not compatible, in the medium term, with Democracy.
    In the long term, civilization becomes incompatible with it, and we’re running out of the long term already.

  5. Ridana says

    Yay. But like Epstein, I’m sure he’s set things up to ensure that his spiteful vendetta against the world’s carrying on without him continues unabated.

  6. tbp1 says

    The level of greed in these people truly astonishes me. If my income were to increase by only a few thousand dollars, it would make a noticeable difference in my lifestyle. A million dollars? Whoa!

    But a billion dollar increase in a Koch brother’s income wouldn’t change the way they live day to day in any way whatsoever. The extra money would just sit in their bank accounts, so what’s the point? I honestly don’t get it.

  7. PaulBC says

    Cripes, every obituary I just saw said “philanthropist” instead of misanthrope. says he almost bought it in a 1991 plane crash. Am I bad for thinking “what a shame”?

    Well, technically true and more palatable to mainstream media. I remember being taken aback seeing the Koch brothers featured prominently as contributors to our children’s hospital. It doesn’t make up for all the damage they did, but I’m still glad our hospital has some of their money.

    I wonder how much his death will matter. The money and organization remain. Anyway, we’ll see.

  8. tbp1 says

    “Cripes, every obituary I just saw said “philanthropist” instead of misanthrope.”

    I know. He apparently was a big ballet fan, and a major supporter of the NYC Ballet. Some years ago my wife and I went to see the iconic Nutcracker production and were disgusted to note that the the former NY State Theater was now the David H. Koch Theater. We don’t live in NYC and so we hadn’t known that before then. While I suppose I’m glad at least some of his money went to good causes, it doesn’t even begin to make up for the damage he did. After all, Hitler apparently loved the opera.

  9. wzrd1 says

    Alas, the retired brother died, the unretired one remains active.
    But, there is an upside, the surviving brother is 83 years old.

  10. PaulBC says

    tbp1@12 Well, if our hospital turns into the David Koch Children’s Hospital, I may need to make some tough choices (pretty sure they won’t and I’ll cross that bring when I come to it).

  11. says

    tbp1 (#12) –

    Much of the time when the grotesquely wealthy “donate to charity”, it is to things like ballet, opera, universities, etc. They give only to things that maintain and expand the patriarchal, racist, sexist and classist systems they are part of. They would never give to something meaningful that would help society. in general

    Harry Rosen’s actions are the exception. But then, he grew up poor and was only one step removed from those he chose to help.

  12. doubtthat says

    Also worth pointing out that the Koch’s “charitable donations” to universities are better understood as propaganda efforts.
    The economics school at George Mason University being the clearest example.

  13. robro says

    Daddy Charles is 83, but then there’s Chas Koch. Any one know much about the position of heir apparent, other than he is now president of Koch Industries venture capital arm? Oh, and he claims to have spent the early 2000s banging out Led Zeppelin covers and “screwing around in Austin.”

  14. tbp1 says

    Intransitive (#16) Since I happen to like opera, ballet and classical music in general, and am a university professor, I am in favor of people donating to them. I think supporting the arts DOES help society in general, but I certainly take your point.

  15. Ragutis says

    I don’t find any joy in someone’s death, but I’m not exactly sad.
    He did support public television, so I guess I’m grateful for that. Then again, it’s kind of like giving the homeless guy on the corner a buck on your way home from the bank heist.


    23 August 2019 at 10:40 am

    (…) so what’s the point? I honestly don’t get it.

    It’s how they keep “score”. It’s validation of their intellect or business prowess or whatever*. They can’t find happiness in simply being successful or seemingly in other aspects of their lives. They have to to keep racking up the points raking in the dollars. Luckily, there’s at least a few like Buffett and Gates who’ve committed to giving away most of their wealth upon their passing. Others, like the Waltons… it’ll take torches and pitchforks to get and put that money to any kind of worthwhile use.

    * Maybe they’re disappointing in the sack and can’t be arsed to learn.

  16. says

    Lee Fang:

    At the congressional swearing in ceremony for the Tea Party wave, I saw David Koch leaving the building and got a short interview. Every other political interview Koch ever gave was carefully screened. This one wasn’t. [video at the link - SC]

    This interview apparently angered him. Shortly after they hired private investigators & operatives and I got harassed for over a year. An old high school media account got hacked, they hosted a website calling me a liar, edited my Wiki, a Koch blogger smeared me almost every day.

    Tfw you trigger one of the world’s wealthiest and right-wing billionaires.

    Also, read @JaneMayerNYer’s book Dark Money, she was able to detail similar tactics they used against her. Koch had a very sophisticated operation to try to discredit and intimidate a number of critics and journalists.

    The handler here is Tim Phillips, the president of David Koch’s political org, “Americans for Prosperity.” I was the first to report that Koch was using AFP to organize “grassroots” Tea Party events and had written over two dozen stories from 2009-2010 detailing its activities.

    BTW Tim in the video claims I am from Virginia, which is not true. I was born and raised in Maryland. Although my family is from Virginia, which he somehow knew.

  17. nomdeplume says

    I don’t often say it, but good riddance, Mr Koch, don’t let the coffin lid hit you on the way out.

  18. MichaelE says

    I won’t say this welcome news, but I’m certainly not going to call it unwelcome either. Especially considering the Ruth Bader Ginsburg news.

  19. unclefrogy says

    The extra money would just sit in their bank accounts, so what’s the point? I honestly don’t get it.

    Extra money does not exist, very little of the wealthy keep very much in banks it is invested in things that will appreciate in value in times of growth and maintain capital in times of recession.
    To be wealthy in the way people like the Koch’s are and to maintain that wealth and growth they need to gain power and control of as much as is possible to control; government, society, intellectual thought, morals.
    Democracy is anathema to that kind of wealth and power
    it is too bad there is no one who can take the wealthy aside and explain to then the folly they are engaging in and where it will likely end because it is clear that they think it is not going to happen because they are in control but they forget how badly they are outnumbered.
    who will be next?
    uncle frogy

  20. says

    The Third Way, well-known boosters of New Democrats like the Clintons and Joe Biden, tied in with the Democratic Leadership Council which deliberately funded primary challenges against New Deal Democrats to replace them with corporate-friendly, pro-war candidates, worked with the Koch brothers? Goodness, what a surprise. Shocked, I am shocked. This is totally unbelievable news.

  21. PaulBC says


    Especially considering the Ruth Bader Ginsburg news.

    Oh fuck. Pancreatic cancer? You know, I was feeling bad about the idea of pissing on Koch’s grave thinking of him as a donor to the hospital one of my kids’ lives depends on.

    But the GOP would absolutely piss on RBG’s grave while praising Je$u$ for her early demise. I just hope this is not as deadly as it sounds.

  22. ck, the Irate Lump says

    Don’t get too excited at his passing. All the organizations he founded and funded will continue to write policy for the foreseeable future. Even in death, he will rule over us all.

    Ragutis wrote:

    Luckily, there’s at least a few like Buffett and Gates who’ve committed to giving away most of their wealth upon their passing.

    I’ve got bad news for you. Most of this philanthropy (or philanthrocapitalism) isn’t really doing good. Much of it comes with strings attached requiring opening of domestic markets, and all of it ends up undermining local governments and democracies, giving the very rich veto power over who deserves help and those who do not. And a not insignificant portion is donated to “charities” which are little more than political think tanks which exist to write corporate-friendly law.

    All of it undermines democracy, and it’s time we stop letting these people launder their reputations on the cheap like this.

  23. Owlmirror says

    Sigh. I recall, from watching Nova all the way to the end credits, this: Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers. (and the preceding sentence was copied from the bottom of the Nova web page, where it’s part of the footer for every page for the program)

    (For those who’ve never heard the name, it’s pronounced like “coke”, not like “kotch” (as the former NYC mayor with the same surname was pronounced))

  24. Owlmirror says

    To the best of my knowledge, Nova has never been accused of skewing climate science in favor of the denialists. Anyone ever hear otherwise?

  25. Owlmirror says

  26. Ragutis says


    23 August 2019 at 6:01 pm

    To the best of my knowledge, Nova has never been accused of skewing climate science in favor of the denialists. Anyone ever hear otherwise?

    Accused? Yeah, it was, but there doesn’t appear to be much evidence of PBS skewing their content, nor of any significant pressure or influence to do so.

    Hey, prove me wrong. Can’t make me think much worse of the Kochs, though I may end up a bit disappointed in PBS.

    As for RBG, the news seems about as good as it could be, under the circumstances. I think she’ll still be there in January 2021. It’s up to us to make sure the right person is in place to nominate someone to replace her when she’s ready to leave.. (Can you imagine trying to fill those shoes?)

  27. anat says

    Ragutis @33:

    It’s up to us to make sure the right person is in place to nominate someone to replace her when she’s ready to leave.

    … And the right people in the Senate to make that nomination actually stick. Flipping the Senate is doable this time around, but it will take a lot of effort.