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Sep 072011

Yesterday, on the Randi Rhodes Show, I was joined by my pal Brad Friedman who told us all about his story – with actual audio – from the top secret retreat hosted by those far from fabulous Koch Brothers in June.  Well, almost all about it.  Part two of the story hit the fan this morning, and Brad joined me to talk about the super surprise and top secret (until today) keynote speaker Chris Christie.

He’ll also come back on Randi’s show this afternoon.

This morning, I also spoke with The Nation‘s Ari Berman – this time about a piece he wrote for Rolling Stone: The GOP’s War on Voting.

This afternoon, we’ll start the show with some personal reflections on 9-11 as we approach this Sunday’s 10th anniversay.

Cliff Schecter is the author of the 2008 bestseller The Real McCain, and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post writes a weekly column for Al Jazeera English (now syndicates to 850 other outlets).  His latest column is   ”9-11 and Its Great Transformations”

You might not know the name John Ondrasik, but you likely know his music. John is the man behind the band Five for Fighting, and is an old, dear friend of mine.  His song, Superman, had been released shortly before that awful day (I was actually the very first person to play it on the radio!)…  It was adopted as an anthem by NYC’s first responders, and John was invited to play it at Madison Square Garden – amdist some of music’s biggest superstars – at the Concert for NYC.

Tonight is the big GOP debate, and tomorrow night President Obama will address a joint session of Congress on our jobs crisis. Leo Gerard - International President of the Steelworkers Union will weigh in on the jobs plans being discussed now, including tomorrow’s speech, Romney’s plan, and what we really need.  Read his take on the meaning of Labor Day in this piece he wrote for AlterNet last week.

May 122011

Those self-serving, right wing fanatical Ayn Randian Koch brothers are at it again.  Earlier this week, we learned that they had used their money to buy influence at Florida State University that would give them the authority to reject potential professors from being hired, to recommend their own, and to have a say in the curriculum as well.  As Think Progress reported,

The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation entered into an agreement with Florida State University in 2008 in which the foundation would provide millions of dollars in funds for the school’s economics department.The funds were marked to add multiple faculty positions in the economics department. But the money came with multiple strings attached, including a demand that Koch have the ability to directly approve who ultimately filled the positions. As the St. Petersburg Times reports, the agreement is now raising questions across the board about academic freedom and integrity at public colleges and universities:

Under the agreement with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, however, faculty only retain the illusion of control. The contract specifies that an advisory committee appointed by Koch decides which candidates should be considered. The foundation can also withdraw its funding if it’s not happy with the faculty’s choice or if the hires don’t meet “objectives” set by Koch during annual evaluations.

Koch wasted little time in asserting his influence. In 2009, he denied 60 percent of the faculty’s suggestions to fill the positions in the new programs, called the Study of Political Economy and Free Enterprise (SPEFE) and Excellence in Economics Education (EEE). The hires that were made were agreed upon by Koch and the department’s faculty.

But according to a memorandum about the agreement, obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat, the ability to pick and choose faculty members was hardly the only string attached. In addition, Koch wanted the ability to review work done by the economics faculty and much more: (continue reading the Think Progress report here)

Last night, Think Progress posted a new report, showing that this purchase of influence was not limited to FSU.  Lee Fang joined me on the show this morning to discuss his piece, which details their findings after analyzing data from the Charles Koch Foundation that found that trend to much more far-reaching than previously realized:

Many of the Koch university grants finance far right, pro-polluter professors, and dictate that students read Charles Koch’s book as part of their academic study:

West Virginia University: As ThinkProgress reported last year, Koch funds an array of academic programs at West Virginia University, a public university. One Koch-funded academic at WVU, economics professor Russell Sobel, has written a book blasting regulations of all types. He even argues that less mine safety regulations will make coal miners more safe. As the St. Petersburg Times reported, a similar arrangement has been made with WVU as with FSU in accepting at least $480,000 from Koch.

Brown University: The Charles Koch Foundation funds the Political Theory Project at Brown, which provides funding for “Seminar Luncheons for undergraduates, academic conferences, research fellowships for graduate students, support for faculty research, and a postdoctoral fellowship program.” Amity Shales, a pop-conservative writer who argues that the New Deal made the Great Depression worse, an odd theory promoted by Charles Koch himself, has been a featured speaker at the Koch-funded Project at Brown. Moreover, Koch’s donation of at least $419,254 to Brown has underwritten a number of research projects in the Economics and Political Science deparments, including a paper arguing that bank deregulation has helped the poor.

Troy University: The Charles Koch Foundation, along with the Manuel Johnson and the BB&T Foundation, provided Troy University, a public university, a gift of $3.6 million to establish the Center for Political Economy last year. The Center’s stated goal is to push back against the belief following the financial crisis that markets need regulation. Notably, the entire Advisory Council for the Center is made up of Koch and BB&T-funded professors at other universities, including Russell Sobel at West Virginia University and Peter Boettke at George Mason University. Currently, the Center’s only staffer, Professor Scott Beaulier, is a board member of the ExxonMobil-funded attack group, American Energy Alliance, and a former staffer for Koch’s think tank at George Mason.

Utah State University: The Charles Koch Foundation has given nearly $700,000 to Utah State University, mostly for the Huntsman School of Business. The money has been used to hire five new faculty members, and establish a program for undergraduates to enroll and learn about Charles Koch’s “Science of Liberty” management theory. Professor Randy Simmons, the “Charles G. Koch Professor of Political Economy” at the school, helps select students — who must provide information about their ideological interests in their application form — to the Koch program. Simmons also works for several Koch-funded front groups, and writes papers against environmental regulations. Charles Koch’s book, “The Science of Success,” a book Forbes mocked for proclaiming a “Marxist faith in ‘fixed laws’ that govern ‘human well-being,’” is part of the required reading list for the program. A representative for Utah State did not return ThinkProgress’ calls about conditional strings attached to the Koch grant.

Charles Koch Foundation grants, along with direct Koch Industries grants, are distributed to dozens of other universities around the country every year, to both public and private institutions. Some of the programs, like the Charles Koch Student Research Colloquium at Beloit College, are funded by grants of little over $130,000 and simply support conservative speakers on campuses. We have reached out to several of the schools to learn more about the agreements, but none so far have returned our calls.  (Read the rest of this report here)

Today is May 12.  I’ve been telling you about what would happen in NYC today all week… but in case you haven’t heard, please visit and, if you’re in the vicinity, get out and participate.  Last night, the OnMay12 coalition, with assists from Brave New Foundation and The Other 98% and Koch Brothers Exposed had a little fun while exposing the Koch Suckers Brothers for the blood suckers they are.

They held a “Guerrilla Drive In” in NY – in which they showed a film on the side of the “Charles H. Koch Theater” at the NYC Ballet/NYC Opera on Manhattan’s west side…  The first order of business was to plaster a giant “thought” sticker above the Koch name:

Then, as hundreds gathered, they watched some Brave New Films’ videos about the Koch Brothers, like this one



Comedian Lee Camp was there, and he told us all about it on today’s show too.

And, one last thought before you leave for the weekend…. apparently, the geniuses in the Florida legislature didn’t realize that human beings fall under the scientific category of  “animal” when they passed legislation, ostensibly to outlaw bestiality.

The good scientific folks at Southern Fried Science put it in graphic form for us:

Why would anyone think that sex between two consenting adults in the state of Florida would be illegal after October 1? Just read the newly-passed bill for yourself:

An act relating to sexual activities involving animals; creating s. 828.126, F.S.; providing definitions; prohibiting knowing sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal; prohibiting specified related activities; providing penalties; providing that the act does not apply to certain husbandry, conformation judging, and veterinary practices; providing an effective date.

Do you still wonder why I call it FloriDUH?



Feb 232011

Remember that star-studded song that raised millions of dollars to fight hunger world wide in the 80s?  The man who brought it all together, music manager Ken Kragen, has signed on to help create Home Aid – a virtual fundraising benefit event to help America’s homeless families, children, and veterans, to be held November 18-19 in Nasville and New Orleans during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

This morning, I’ll be joined by Ken Kragen and David Mathison of Be The Media, executive director of the event, to tell us all about it, and how we can all get involved.

As you know, I’ve been very vocal in my support of the 99ers – a group that’s expanding exponentially daily, many of whom are among the homeless, or are soon to be.  We are truly the world, and we must help our fellow human beings through this very difficult time.

So much is going on in our world today — the world’s hot spot is Libya, where Muammar Kadaffi (I guess any way you want to spell is is correct) rambled for over 90 minutes yesterday, basically telling the people of Libya “Fuck you. I’m in charge. Come and get me, if I don’t get you first.. hahahaha” (Obviously, not a direct quote, but a #shorter version of his 90 minute diatribe.)  We’ll get a quick Libya update from Larisa Alexandrova at who’s been doing a great job of keeping up with everything going on there.

Kadaffi isn’t the only one who gave a rambling speech yesterday. Dictator Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin had the gall to call his speech a “fireside chat” as he tries to undo the policies put in place by the guy who actually coined the phrase!  In case you’re curious, here’s the video…

But basically he said to the pro-union protestors and the Wisconsin 14 (state senators who left the state to avoid a quorum necessary for a vote on this heinous piece of legislation), “Fuck you. I’m in charge. And if you don’t do what I want you to do, I’ll fire all the union workers one at a time:  (again, obviously, not a direct quote, but a #shorter version of his diatribe.)

BTW, this  just crossed my twitter stream… I don’t know if it’s real or not… but it’s great stuff–a prank call to Scott Walker from “David Koch”!

The website has crashed under all the traffic, but here are the two YouTube videos with the audio from the call:

And here at home, many of us are still reeling over what our government does in our name!  Jason Leopold has a new explosive piece up at Truthout.orgMy Tortured Journey with Former Guantanamo Detainee David Hicks. It is MUST reading!


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