Power. That’s the name of the game in Republican politics. Not principle. Not vision. Who are the core players in that power game? t2P has combed several lists of ‘key’ Republican players from the two opposing forces in the Radical Right, the Libertarians and the Neo Cons. Our top ten list represents the people who, through political clout, money, or both, are seminal driving forces that corrupt Republican politics and push it to the extremist ends that it promotes today.
In a seemingly endless sea of Right-wing malefactors who have created part of the 35 year industry of political extremism that has driven millions of voters out of the GOP and made it a rich, but minority party, it would seem like a daunting task to pick a ten most wanted.
Our top ten, though, merit special attention because of the breadth of their influence, which is usually masked behind the web of astroturf grass roots movements, think tanks, and other brush that covers elephant tracks and dirty tricks. It is good to know who is pulling the strings of power, and, in our “Justice” section that follows each, comes our suggestion as to how you can fight back against that power.
There was a big shift in this year’s list, as some of the usual crowd, like Right-radio-reactionary Rush Limbaugh, took a major tumble, opening space in the Ten Most Wanted.
No 10: Roger Ailes – Fox News’ CEO has dropped to No. 10 with a bullet on our list. Ailes may be America’s leading propagandist, but his network, which has dominated the narrative lines of most political stories for decades, has been losing its iron-clad grip.
Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch is an opportunist. Ailes is pure old-school Neo-Con. A true-believer in the Wall Street to Military Industrial Complex side of the party.
Ailes has hired hundreds of minions to carry out the war against shadow “media elites” and never-identified “Leftists” that was well leveraged against the screaming pro-Bush patriotism of the post 9/11 era. Ailes was able to build his “news” network into a powerful propagandist tool that has given lift to the Tea Party, marginalized the Occupy Wall Street movement, and put the Far Right’s spin on political news out there as the story to debate for the other networks.
Of late, though, the Super PAC has caused serious spin problems for the top that is Fox News. Rick Santorum’s backing by Foster Friess has kept the coronation of Mitt Romney as the anti-Obama warrior off the calendar for weeks longer than planned.
Fox has also been unable to spin the Walker recall in Wisconsin, or do much damage control with conservative women after extreme anti-abortion legislation in Virginia, Alabama, Arizona and elsewhere began alienating independents and even harder Right women voters.
They’ve begun falling behind political narrative lines, instead of firing the gun that stampedes them in the Right direction.
Justice: Turn-off Fox News and boycott other Murdoch publications. Let your local Fox TV affiliate know you’re turning them off until they find another network to provide their national news feeds.
No. 9: Frank Luntz – Luntz is the propaganda lyricist to Grover Norquist’s political orchestrations, a Sullivan to the master manipulator’s Gilbert. Luntz, with degrees from University of Pennsylvania and Oxford, is the CEO of Luntz Research Companies, which offers “Strategic Consulting and Message Development,” messaging, focus groups, surveys and other research for political and corporate campaigns.
Effectively he is a professional mendast, who finds alternative phrasings that allow his Far Right clients to twist political sentiment through their own misunderstanding and emotional responses to his clever wordings.
- It’s not “global warming.” It’s “climate change” which sounds oh-so un-man-made. He advised the Bush administration to play up the “lack of scientific certainty” in the global warming debate, even though scientists were quite certain.
- To promote school vouchers that privatize the public school systems, he told his clients to call them ”opportunity scholarships” rather than vouchers, which poll as unpopular with most average independent voters.
- He told oil company clients that offshore oil drilling is better expressed as “deep-sea energy exploration.”
- Luntz was awarded the 2010 PolitiFact “Lie of the Year” award for his promotion of the phrase ‘government takeover’ to refer to healthcare reform, starting in the spring of 2009.
- He coined the term “death tax” to light a fire under average Americans about the reinstatement of an estate tax that really only affects the wealthiest 1%.
- Fighting reform of the abuses of Wall Street, Luntz urged opponents of financial legislative reform to say the legislation is filled with bank bailouts, lobbyist loopholes, and additional layers of complicated government bureaucracy.
“80 percent of our life is emotion, and only 20 percent is intellect. I am much more interested in how you feel than how you think,” Luntz said in an interview on the PBS show Frontline.
It’s much easier to manipulate people emotionally. Luntz is the grand master of it, and a prime player in twisting positives into Right Wing negatives that scare voters into submission. Language is power in politics, and Luntz, a master of language, is the GOP’s fountainhead of manipulation mots.
Justice: Protest any appearance by Luntz as a guest expert on television shows. Share his lies when they’re caught by passing along stories from Maddow, this publication and others who expose his misdirections. Don’t let fiction stand as fact. Write companies like NBC, GE, Fedex, Frito Lay, Coca-Cola, GM, McDonalds, Kroger, MGM Mirage, Pepsi and the BBC and ask them to use other polling/consulting services.
No. 8: Sheldon Adelson, one of the new Super PAC men, moves up into the A list of the Right Wing’s most wanted by being the primary money man behind the Newt Gingrich campaign, but as the sixth richest man in the world, his deep pockets afford the NeoCon wing of the Republican Party lots of ad buys, robo calling, and more.
Free to put millions from his international casino business into the 2012 GOP primary contest, he kept pal Gingrich’s White House ambitions on artificial life support and almost sparked a real run for the Oval Office until Nasty Newt’s odious personality and high-negatives with independent voters sparked enough cat-calling from the GOP hierarchy, Fox News and the other Right-wing punditocracy to take him out at the knees.
Adelson is still a huge giver to the GOP, and their senatorial campaign, with an eye towards anyone on the hard Right that remains pro-Israel.
He owns the newspaper equivalent of Fox News in Israel, Yisrael Hayom. It’s a daily paper that is closely tied to the ultra-nationalist wing of the Likud party. He also is a big funder of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Justice: With casinos in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore and his advanced age, there is not much that can be done to touch Adelson, but you can send the message loud and clear by booking properties other than the Venetian hotels or anything with a Sands logo. Don’t stay there. Don’t gamble there. Don’t drink there. Don’t eat there.
No. 7: Foster Friess – A long-time bush supporter, Friess, who made his millions in the successful Brandywine Fund, is an odd combo: A Christian conservative and a Libertarian. On social issues, he leans towards the government getting into your business, and on business issues he leans toward the government getting out of his business.
He emerged politically when he set up the Super PAC Red White & Blue Fund to back Rick Santorum. Friess donated $689,000 to Republican organizations and the Bush presidential campaigns over the last decade. He has contributed millions to far-Right political causes and candidates.
He made national news when he made an insensitive remark about birth control to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC:
Friess is a member of the secretive conservative Council for National Policy that coordinates objectives amongst the network of astroturf grass roots groups, think tanks, Super PACs and their wealthy funders.
He was acknowledged at the privately held Koch brothers seminar in June 2011 in Vail, Colorado for donating at least $1 million to Koch-related causes.
Friess gives to Private Sector Solutions, a network of leaders developing private sector solutions to augment, preempt or replace government services.
He has donated to LibForAll and other groups building a global counter-extremism network
He opposes national health reform through donations to the astroturf activist group Free Market Cure and other groups.
He will also backstop the FairTax project, legislation to replace the current federal system of taxation with a tax on retail sales, which taxes the working man hard and lets Friess keep even more of his “hard earned” money.
He is a rich ideologue who holds the most extreme social, religious and economic views, and has the millions to try and influence others by way of the web of faux special interest groups that he funds.
Justice: Boycott the Brandywine fund personally and via any job related financing that uses a mutual fund. There’s plenty of them out there. Target the companies that do business with Friess and Brandywine for boycott of your dollars. Stop funding his campaign of Right-wing extremism.
No. 6: The Coors Family – The Coors family, heirs of Adolph Coors, are fronted by great grandson Pete, and grandsons Joseph and William Coors.
They are Dead Billionaires Club (DBC) charter members, with long ties to the radical Right.
The Coors funded the Castle Rock Foundation, with $39M in 1993. By 1997 that number was $67M.
They are anchor funders of far Right astroturf grass roots, think tanks, and other organizations with a decided Libertarian bent, including the democracy-killing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the secretive Council for National Policy, the Free Congress Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, the uber-conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the anti-union National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, and The Strategy To Privatize The Public Domain to name a few of the more than 40 organizations that use their millions to espouse the Far Right agenda.
Justice: Boycott Coors, Molson, Blue Moon, Keystone, Allbright, Arc, Caffreys Bitter, Grolsch and the Worthington beers.
No. 5: The DeVOS Family – Not as well known as their pyramidic family business, Amway, the company’s co-founder Richard DeVOS Sr., his children and grandchildren are all big funders of the Far Right.
The senior DeVos also served as Republican National Committee finance chair.
The DeVOS contributes to anti-government anchors like the American Enterprise Institute, judicial manipulation via the Right-wing Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, manipulation of the masses through the Heritage Foundation, the Michigan-centric far Right Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and some highly questionable interpretations of the Constitution via the National Constitution Center.
Extremely religious, Betsy DeVos is influential in school voucher funding that allows for school “choice” that brings religion in through the back door. They also work with smaller fry like James Dobson to promote organizations like the Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family.
Members of the family fund D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, FL. that produced an Ann Coulter documentary linking Darwinism with Hitler and the Holocaust which the Anti Defamation League of B’nai B’rith called “an outrageous and shoddy attempt by D. James Kennedy to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust.”
Justice: Don’t buy or sell Amway products. Boycott the NBA Orlando Magic, which DeVOS owns, both at home and when they play away.
No. 4: Richard Mellon-Scaife – A scion of the early capitalist Robber Barons, Richard Mellon-Scaife is a $1.2B trust-funder with a publishing business that makes him the Charles Foster Kane of his day. Far worse than Rupert Murdoch, because, unlike the Australian opportunist, Mellon-Scaife is a true believer.
Like Ailes, Mellon-Scaife tries to corrupt the fourth estate with a hard-Right spin in his publications like the American Spectator, NewsMax.com, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Mellon-Scaife is a DBC Charter Member with his money in numerous hard-Right foundations that support more than thirty hard-Right special interest groups and think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the judicial-bending Federalist Society, L. Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center, Grover Norquist’s National Taxpayers Union Foundation, and more.
He guides four foundations with more than $385M in assets with the sole purpose of remodeling the United States Government in his self-centered Libertarian world view. The Sarah Scaife Foundation had $244 million in fair market value in 2009. The Carthage Foundation had $24 million, the Alleghany Foundation held $47 million, and the Scaife Family Foundation put $70 million to work for far Right causes and ideologies.
Justice: Pittsburghians find yourself another newspaper. Mellon-Scaife makes most of his money on oil and aluminum and investments. There are few other ways to touch him.
No. 3: The Koch brothers – The Kochs are the most visible face of the Dead Billionaires Club. The owners of the largest privately held company in North America, Koch Enterprises, they move oil, own Georgia Pacific Lumber, and sell you Brawny paper towels.
Yes, the Kochs are big funders of a far-Right Libertarian overthrow of the Republican Party. They are core funders of the American Legislative Exchange Council, as closed to a “shadow government” as we’ve ever had.
Yes, they host ultra-secret meetings to recruit and gather other billionaires and high-million millionaires to their cause of ripping down the federal government from the inside brick-by-brick.
Yes, they have justices Scalia and Thomas in their back pocket, and can call them out to secret meetings without consequence.
The thing, though, that has elevated their status on this list though, is their development of contango trading of oil. Want to whip the Teahadis into a frenzy? How about $5.00 gas. The cause of this has more to do with the fact that people like the Kochs can literally siphon off enough supply, parked in tanks and super tankers, to drive oil speculation through the roof. Then they sell it off at big profits, and stick it to the little fish by short-selling, betting on the decline, that they create.
It’s illegal, unethical, and, with millions focused on keeping any kind of government watchdog agency from going after them, likely to continue making them even bigger billionaires for years to come.
The Kochs are big union busters as well, and the biggest backers of Scott Walker’s union busting efforts in Wisconsin. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is their biggest astroturf grass roots group, and should rightly be named Americans for the Koch Brothers’ Prosperity. Their agenda largely serves the wealthiest of the wealthy, not the poor schmucks that they’ve convinced are aligned with their government-dismantling.
Justice: Protest against AFP wherever they go. Never use a Brawny product. Buy lumber that isn’t Georgia Pacific (Ask if you have to). Do whatever you can to reduce your oil consumption. Of every gallon you purchase, a penny or two heads straight to the Kochs’ pocket.
No. 2: Karl Rove – The man W. nicknamed “Turdblossom” lives up to that moniker as one of our top elephant droppings. Rove is the defacto leader of the Neo Conservative wing of the Republican Party. Politicians come and go, but Rove is a principal architect and crypt keeper of more than a generation of linkage between the money and power of Wall Street, big oil, the military industrial complex, big agribusiness, and the pharma industries to the NeoCon politicians, astroturf groups, and think tanks that hold a handful of the reins of power.
He has grown the NeoCon tumor on the American body politic, part of the same malignancy that spawned a hard-Right judicially activist Supreme Court that delivered the malignancy that was George W. Bush, a pair of wars, radical reshaping of civil rights, a festering boil of Wall Street greed that exploded in 2008, and more.
George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Phil Gramm, Ronald Reagan, Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchinson have all been clients. Rove also generated the program at the state level for placing their Supreme Court justices that would then be tried at the federal level: Put partisan “activist” judges in place and then accuse the other side of doing it while you were doing it.
The fight for the soul of the Republican Party, or what’s left of it, is between the NeoCons and the Libertarians who both seek power for their own aims.
NeoCons are not as rabidly anti-government as the Libertarians. A lot of the “pork” that has been handed down in oil depletion allowances and fat contracts for pricey state-of-the-art weapons systems many of which never work properly for years or decades, goes to these Right wing funders of NeoCon politics and policy.
If the GOP avoided hand-to-hand combat on the floor of their convention in Tampa, as Romney would have likely missed the first round “lock,” thank whatever back room deals that Rove and his minions engineered to head off Rick Santorum and his sugar daddy Foster Friess at the pass.
Rove’s dirty tricks started with his early “prank” of using a false identity to gain access to the campaign office of Democrat Alan J. Dixon, running for Treasurer of Illinois. Rove stole 1000 sheets of campaign letterhead, then printed fake rally fliers promising “free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing.” It didn’t work, but the practice of underhanded dealing began.
He dropped out of college to run, ironically, for the head of the College Republicans in the Midwest in 1973. He held a bloodless coup by producing another version of their bylaws from the one that Robert Edgeworth, the other candidate, was running under. Things became so heated that they held two seaparate elections, and both were named to helm the same organization, at the same time. While lawsuits proceeded, Edgeworth leaked a recording to the Washington Post where Rove admitted that he had been rooting through people’s garbage cans to get dirt on his opposition, in a mini-me mirror of the Watergate investigation that was going on in the same year.
Then RNC Chairman George H.W. Bush put Rove under the microscope, including having an FBI agent question him. Former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, and alleged Watergate co-conspirator, who became the star witness for the prosecution, said: “[B]ased on my review of the files, it appears the Watergate prosecutors were interested in Rove’s activities in 1972, but because they had bigger fish to fry, they did not aggressively investigate him.”
Rove also had his hand in politicizing the Department of Justice with the political firings of seven U.S. Attorneys for failing to engage in political prosecutions that he had wanted carried out, but, under the cover of Executive Privilege from his years in the White House, he dodged another political bullet.
What has moved Rove up the list to No. 2, though, is his development of American Crossroads in 2010, another shadowy 527 Super PAC, to take advantage of the Citizens United decision. He has amassed a great war chest to try to stop President Obama’s re-election, and has been the sugar daddy of the muddled and middling Mitt Romney campaign in 2012.
Justice: Rove likes to hear the sound of his own voice. He accepts frequent speaking engagements. The activist forces of Occupy Wall Street have already engaged him at these events. That needs to continue. Companies that fund Rove’s American Crossroads, like Public Storage, American Financial Group (AFG), and Perry Homes of Texas don’t need your business.
No. 1: Grover Norquist – Not that Mr. Norquist reads our humble little publication, but he would probably delight in the fact that he’s No. 1. He surpasses the more public Karl Rove in so many ways because he has elevated the power game on behalf of his elite Libertarian DBC clientele to Wagnerian heights. Norquist has shanghaied the Republican Party out from under its NeoCon masters by spending more than 35 patient, long years building his government wrecking crew from the ground up.
We’ve profiled Norquist previously in “I Pledge Allegiance to Grover Norquist,” who is best known by the public for his infamous tax pledge, which requires all Republican incumbents who don’t want someone competing in their primary to sign on or be targeted as a RINO (Republican in Name Only).
Norquist, working with low-lifes like convicted felon Jack Abramamoff and boyish b.s. artist Ralph Reed has hand trained legions of extremist, highly dogmatic Libertarian political warriors. The Tea Party, and the extreme hard Right stands that career Republicans have taken in recent years to avoid extinction are all his handiwork.
The manipulation of the debt run up by the NeoCon side of the GOP into the phony “crisis” last summer, and the placement of Teahadi simpletons like monkey wrenches into the gears of government are all part of Mr. Norquist’s handiwork.
Norquist has been adept at co-opting the Religious Right out from under the NeoCons by letting them put their extremist agenda into legislation, rather than giving it lip service. Why? It’s another happy monkey wrench thrown into the system to destroy government from within. Rather than tackle climate legislation, or hunt down the Koch brothers’ contango operations, the government is left paralyzed by hot-button issues like abortion and women’s rights that distract from Norquist’s real putsch for deregulation of his business backers and Paul Ryanesque changes to the social safety net and the tax system.
The network of organizations that he helped launch and coordinates to this day are the agitators behind monkey wrench issues, everything from school prayer and “school choice” vouchers to the anti-union activism infecting state legislatures.
More important, as we mentioned in “The Rubber Stamp President,” Mr. Norquist is determined to turn the presidency into a figurehead role by making sure that, whomever is in office, if they do not do his hand-picked Congress’ bidding, they will be stymied at every turn. Witness his success with President Obama over the last three years.
He was a driving force in the creation of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) a one stop shop for major corporations to come and have legislation written up, handed to a Republican congressman, and put through the pretense of the American political process to dismantle regulations or delay complying with environmental or societal responsibilities.
Norquist and his allies orchestrated the Teahadi Takeover of Congress in 2010, and dozens of state legislatures which began spinning out radical Right legislation that even further alienated common voters.
If you ever wonder why Republicans seem to turn against polling data showing them out of step with the will of the people, it is because the only will they answer to is that of Norquist and his wealthy masters.
Norquist is still the epicenter of political power in Washington, D.C., and does not show any signs of slipping up in any way that will dethrone him any time soon. He is the point man of the Kochs and other extreme Libertarian political interests. His office is the place that both the powerful and the wannabees visit for an opportunity to plug in to his power generator that is the political equivalent of the Hoover Dam.
A brilliant tactician, he is as close to pure evil as we come politically in the United States. Left unchecked, he will destroy whatever level of social justice that he can eradicate, from Medicare to meals for poor children, and unleash unbridled 19th century capitalism, poor houses and all, on this country.
Justice: Unwinding Norquist may take as long, if not longer, than it took for him to insert his social and political carcinoma into government and the election process. The only way to really choke off Mr. Norquist’s ambitions is to get the money people to stop funding him. Pay attention to the businesses of the Dead Billionaires Club and the Club for Growth. Don’t buy product from them. If you walk into a WALMART find a local discounter like a Western Beef. Skip McDonalds and hit Five Guys. If you hurt the funders where they live, and they know that’s where their money is bleeding from, the supply to Mr. Norquist and his allies in D.C. may, at last, dry up enough for him to blow away in the political winds.
My shiny two.
Runners up: James Dobson, the Huffines Brothers, Brent Bozell, Rush Limbaugh, JM Foundation,