Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
If the dead can’t vote in Chicago, should they be allowed to influence politics from the grave in Pittsburgh and Denver and New York?
The Koch brothers may be the most visible part of the Dead Billionaires club, but they are not the only New Deal-hating Libertarian elites funding the dismantling of the government of the United States from within.
A handful of the wealthiest families in America, all of whose great wealth dates back at least one American generation. They are 100% responsible for the political gridlock that is tearing America apart. The media touts this as a recent phenomenon, but it is part of a more than 40 year campaign by the Pre-New Deal robber barons and their offspring to end the social safety net, end union labor, and return America to the Right, white control of the early Industrial Age.
“They took the long view, investing to build institutions that might take a decade or more to mature. They also adopted a broad agenda that went far beyond business and economics to include such subjects as foreign policy, law, religion, history and even cultural criticism, “ James Pierson, Executive Director of the John M. Olin Foundation, a Dead Billionaire’s Club VIP organization, wrote of the top members of the “club.” 
Were it not for the millions that they pour into the political system, their far-Right Libertarian agenda would be voiceless and invisible.
The Dead Billionaires Club are a fraction of a fraction. Not even 1% of the 1%. Yet, because of the billions they hold, and the millions that their families have put into “charitable” foundations, long after the scions of the family are gone and dead, guys like Fred Koch and Adolph Coors are still able to affect modern politics from the Great Beyond by dominating the Republican Party’s funding stream, and influencing a large part of the corporate-owned media.
From the Reagan White House to today, they have have grown and groomed GOP politicians, in every state house and on Capitol Hill. The result after three decades is a block of hand-picked, home grown Libertarian jihadis. What is their crusade?
The Dead Billionaires are New Deal haters. They fought it tooth-and-nail in the 1940s. These early industrialist robber barons looked at the acceptance of post-Hoover America by the Republicans as an epic failure. They are intent on tearing down power structures of the “socialist” government and its pro-union, pro-poor social safety net at all costs. The few cowardly old-schoolers of the GOP like Speaker of the House John Boehner throw in with them to keep their political skins.
Why do they hate the New Deal so? Social Darwinists, the Dead Billionaires Club and their minions strive to create their perfect America. They live in the myth that somehow they are endowed by God and nature with better genes. Therefore they are rightly the successful ones.
Eugenics, popularized in 19th century America, is the belief that the only way to perfect the species is to purify it. Long before the Germans were adopting their “final solution,” under Hitler in WWII, Americans doctors gave “inferior” people milk laced with tuberculosis or neglected treatment to kill off inferiors.
By their line of thought, the working person and the poor have varying degrees of evolutional defect that prevent them from succeeding. The rich are supposed to get rich and the rest of us? Well, whatever happens is really your own problem. If you die off, as you probably should, then the superior gene pool survives and the population of this country improves.
As GOP Presidential hopeful Dr. Ron Paul observed when posed with the question about the man who doesn’t take insurance and gets sick, we need to leave it up to the luck that we have support systems.
“Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it,” he said. 
If they don’t, though, as they didn’t before the social safety net on many, many occasions, mean-spirited Social Darwinism led to many an early grave.
They preach the Algerist mirage of opportunity. By hard work and “pluck,” and a conformist personality that pleases the white wealthy, one can rise in station in America and prosper. As if the door through the glass ceiling was equally open to the Shaniquas and Samirs in the executive suites and boardrooms of most American corporations, especially those owned and operated by members of the Dead Billionaires Club.
The Dead Billionaires are the funding fountainhead of a well-cloaked American fascist movement that has been hoodwinking largely white, Christian, conservative voters. Dead Billionaires have run their white power hate under political brand labels like the John Birch Society and the Libertarian Party, the Klu Klux Klan and now, the Republican Party.
The Dead Billionaires Club wants a roll-back to pre-Hoover America. The four key things that they seek from their more than forty year investment:
Anyone challenging the term “fascist” should note that, by definition, “fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by supra-personal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood. To achieve this, fascists purge forces, ideas, people, and systems deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration.”
The Dead Billionaires are the principal backers of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which really has become the shadow government that would have sounded paranoid a decade ago. ALEC’s corporate representatives and Republican legislators pre-screen and form Republican bills so they conform with the wishes of the Club and other smaller corporate funders of ALEC.
Dead Billionaires children and their foundation flunkies shy away from publicity of their political giving like bugs under a rock in a flashlight beam. Some have managed to keep themselves so far out of the media spotlight that they don’t even allow photographs for social functions.
Out of the nest of organizations which they back, The Club for Growth is perhaps their most visible, and direct means of expressing power.
Charles and David Koch/The Koch Family Foundation – The most well known by the public, the Koch brothers run the largest private corporation in America, Koch Industries. Their father was one of the founders of the John Birch Society and David ran for V.P. on the Libertarian ticket in 1980 against Ronald Reagan.
The Kochs and their foundation are top givers and organizing ringleaders of the American Libertarian movement that co-opted the Republican Party. Through big power-player retreats at resorts around the U.S. annually, they bring in other wealthy Americans, politicians, and even Supreme Court justices to meetings so secret that even the hotels holding them aren’t allowed a copy of the guest list, which is controlled at the Koch’s corporate offices. Guests aren’t allowed to share what they’ve seen and heard, if they want an invite back.
They protect their oil and timber interests, including their ability to artificially corner the market for oil using “contango” strategies (See: Things Get Worse with Koch)
Groups that you’ve heard about, like the union-busting, pro-big oil, pro tobacco “Americans for Prosperity” are some of their handiwork. ALEC is the biggest and most dangerous of their political machines by far. For more, see the current list for the brothers and the Koch Family Foundation.
The Mellons & Scaifes – Spawned from the fortune of banker, industrialist, and Secretary of the Treasury under Herbert Hoover Andrew W. Mellon. Their wealth has included major stakes in Gulf Oil, Alcoa metals, and Mellon Bank. The family is a heavy giver to advance a far Right agenda.
Mellon’s grandson, Richard Mellon Scaife, is a Pittsburgh publishing tycoon who uses the foundations under his control to fund the rise of what we believe is modern American fascism. He is the top “idea” man in the Dead Billionaires Club.
Richard Mellon Scaife controls or controlled four of the biggest Right-wing money machines in the Dead Billionaires Club:
Scaife has been the point man in the attack on the media. He is a funder of the Right-wing ezine NewsMax.com, the one that is trying to get the Donald Trump-hosted Presidential debate in motion.
He funded the Gen. Westmoreland suit against CBS. He was a big funder of the “Arkansas Project” where his magazine “The American Spectator” became the central agitator to hamstring President Bill Clinton with the Whitewater investigations and later by making as much as could be made of the meaty Lewinsky scandal.
Scaife has been known to buy up quantities of conservative books to gin them up on bestseller lists. There are Right-wing authors who would never see the bestseller list without the purchase of a few hundred thousand copies to get them started. The purpose is to get hard-Right hate books like Ann Coulter’s into the hands of average Americans that they wouldn’t seek out unless it was piled up at Costco, or sitting on the front shelves at Barnes & Noble.
From the American Enterprise Institute to Judicial Watch to Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center to Grover Norquist’s National Taxpayers Union, Scaife’s hands are in every aspect of the ultra-Right push to crush post-New Deal government. In many ways, he is far worse than the Kochs, and his reach into the far-Right political sphere is as deep, if not deeper.
The daughter, Jennie, who is assuming control of the Foundation, does not seem to share her father’s political views completely, turning some of the recent giving of the foundation to actual charitable causes.
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation – Established in 1942, by the Rockwell Automation pioneer, with more than $632M in assets in 2010, it gives away more than $30M a year. The Bradleys were founding members of the John Birch Society, which was, in its day, the radical right wing, but today, would be very closely aligned with what the Republican Party has become. According to Media Transparency:
“The overall objective of the Bradley Foundation, however, is to return the U.S. — and the world — to the days before governments began to regulate Big Business, before corporations were forced to make concessions to an organized labor force. In other words, laissez-faire capitalism: capitalism with the gloves off.
“To further this objective, Bradley supports the organizations and individuals that promote the deregulation of business, the rollback of virtually all social welfare programs, and the privatization of government services. As a result, the list of Bradley grant recipients reads like a Who’s Who of the U.S. Right … Heritage Foundation … Madison Center for Educational Affairs … American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, literary home for such racist authors as Charles Murray (The Bell Curve) and Dinesh D’Souza (The End of Racism), former conservative officeholders Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Jack Kemp and William J. Bennett, and arch-conservative jurists Robert H. Bork and Antonin Scalia… “
William K Coors & Peter H. Coors/Castle Rock Foundation – Castle Rock Foundation was created from an an endowment of $36,596,253 from the Adolph Coors Foundation in 1993. Beer drinkers know them from the Coors and Molson brands which the family operates. Run by the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the Coors empire, Castle Rock currently boasts assets of $67M is a prominent giver to hard Right anti-union, pro-wealth organizations like ALEC, The Heritage Foundation, The Cato Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and more. See a partial list.
Dick & Betsy DeVos – The son of the co-founder of Amway and the owner of the NBA Orlando Magic Richard DeVos ran for Governor of Michigan and lost. He gives money to numerous ultra-conservative candidates and organizations, as does his father.
“Dick DeVos has used his family’s fortune and status to create an intricate national network of non-profits, political action committees and federal groups known as 527’s that effectively fund the political arm of the school voucher movement. As this profile details, DeVos money flows into the coffers of various ultra-conservative candidates, committees, and causes. Nowhere is the impact of the DeVos family fortune greater, though, than in the movement to privatize public education,” notes People for the American Way. 
Wife Betsy chaired the Michigan Republican Party. Her younger brother Erik D. Prince was the founder of the mercenary multinational Blackwater (Also known as Xe and currently Academi) that ran into trouble in Iraq. People for the American Way notes in “Voucher Warriors”:
“Their foundation, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, where Dick serves as vice-president, is one of the handful of foundations that together have financed much of the effort to promote the Religious Right’s agenda across the country.” 
See more on them.
Jeremiah Milbank/JM Foundation – Milbank, a dry goods merchant speculated in Texas bonds and the railroads before hitting it big with the New York Condensed Milk Co. (Now Borden Company) in 1899.
He established his foundation to help WWI vets with disabilities reintegrate into society. He helped Herbert Hoover found the Boys and Girls Clubs which he acted as treasurer for over 25 years. That was his good side.
His bad side was that he was a believer in eugenics who participated in the 1921 Second International Congress of Eugenics which included “racialist eugenics exhibits, and.. tirades against allowing continued immigration of ‘inferior’ ethnic groups such as Italians and Jews.” 
These days, his foundation is giving to ALEC, some of Grover Norquist’s front organizations, the Heritage Foundation, initiatives that push charter schools, and the Scaifes’ American Spectator Foundation, which tries to mold young journalists into willing shills for the Far Right.
The Foundation is run by Jeremiah Milbank III, who gave Republican Mike Pence of Indiana $50K for his gubernatorial bid even though Milbank hails from New York.
See the full list.
John M. Olin Foundation – It closed up in 2005, but it was very influential in setting up funding for the NeoCons who swept in with the Reagan and then two Bush Administrations, setting the stage for the Iraq War and the crushing debt that followed.
The Smith Richardson Foundation – The Foundation had nearly $570M in 2005 mostly money from the Vicks Vaporub fortune. Trust funder R. Richardson Randolph has given away more than $99.7M to conservative and centrist think-tanks, including $65,000 to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which the Southern Poverty Law Center brands a “hate group.” He holds the distinction of being the most un-photographed of the Club. Not even so much as a social picture.
Corporations that work with the Dead Billionaires Club include the usual bad guys: ExxonMobil, Philip Morris, Altria, ARCO, etc.
The Walton Family Foundation, the family of Dead Billionaire Sam Walton of WALMART fame, gives millions, but largely to school choice programs that dismantle public education.
There are a half dozen more smaller fish, many in the The Club for Growth, plus a few hundred more whom the Kochs primarily bring in.
Republicans have been working hard to disenfranchise poor, minority and elderly voters for 2012 by passing thinly-veiled “voter fraud” laws, but the biggest fraud of all is allowing any foundation to engage in political giving on behalf of the dead.
This includes dumping money into 527s that becomes untraceable, and setting up Astroturf “grass roots” groups. If the far-Rights “grass roots” organizations were real, and had to rely on direct funding rather than hand-outs from these people, they would dry up in a day.
Charitable foundations should be restricted to being just that… Charitable. If they give their money, as the JM Foundation does, to the Boys and Girls club, or to advance the cure for a disease, more power to them. Foundations on either side of the aisle have no business in influencing American politics.
We need Democrats to generate legislation both at the federal and state level to cut off the funding by the ghosts of the Herbert Hoover era. The dead can’t vote in Chicago. They shouldn’t be allowed to buy the vote anywhere in America from the grave.
My shiny two.
 You Get What You Pay For: Conservative philanthropists invested in ideas, and the payoff was huge“, James Piereson, Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2004.