Book on famous (or notorious) Koch brothers a lively read

Tom Jackson
Jul 22, 2014

 

If you enjoy nonfiction and are looking for something to read, consider "Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty" by Daniel Schulman. (I listened to it as an audiobook downloaded to my smartphone, a convenient option available to Sandusky Library cardholders and to patrons of other local libraries that are part of the Clevnet system. I seldom bother to check out audiobooks from the library any more — I just download them using the Overdrive app.)
 
The Koch brothers — or to be precise, two of the four, Charles and David — have been widely vilified by the left for funneling millions of dollars to Republican candidates and are used as boogeymen for Democratic fund-raising efforts.  I get fund raising emails from U.S Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, apparently because I write about the politics for the Sandusky Register. When I ran a search of my email inbox for the senator's name and "Koch brothers," I found dozens of messages.
 
The senator's June 29 missive, which asked if I could chip in at least $5, was typical of his oeuvre. 
 
"The Koch brothers have shown a willingness to meddle in every vote they can, including a local issue about funding for the Columbus Zoo," the email said. "Special interests spent more than $40 million dollars against us in the last election, and we have no idea how much they’ll spend next time around. Our organization has to meet every goal to stay prepared."
 
Before they became elephant men trying to enable a GOP takeover of the federal government, Charles and David were libertarian purists. They funded many libertarian groups, including the Cato think-tank in Washington, D.C., and David was even the Libertarian Party's vice presidential candidate in 1980. (There are no limits if you are funding your own campaign, so the candidacy allowed Mr. Koch to pour lots of money into the race.)
 
Although Democrats may scoff, Charles and David come off rather better than the two apolitical (or relatively apolitical) Koch brothers. Charles and David are described as idealists, driven by the desire to advance their political beliefs and to give money to benefit health care and the arts. Bill Koch comes across as mainly interested in dating women (often several at the same time), accumulating money, buying art and wine, and cultivating his numerous feuds. Frederick Koch, the least political of the four, wanted lots of money for buying art and mansions. 
 
Schulman's book is full of surprises, not the least that his book actually is quite fair. Libertarians who have endured an onslaught of biased stories from the likes of Salon and Alternet will find that Schulman, despite his affiliation with liberal "Mother Jones" magazine, does not let any bias he may have get in the way of getting the story right. 
 
Koch-haters will like the book, too, however. The book is unsparing in its depictions of the Koch companies' environmental depredations, and the brothers' sometimes shady political maneuvers.
 
The book's relatively few readers who are libertarians will enjoy the stories about the Kochs' feuds with famous libertarians such as Murray Rothbard, and the Internet war touched off by their hostile takeover of Cato.
 
But politics is the least of the book's attractions. My attention flagged a bit at all of the anecdotes about the Kochs martialing armies of right wing plutocrats at yet another anti-Obama rally, a story that's been pretty well told already.  It's like reading another rant about the New  York Yankees trying to buy up all of the best players. Yeah, yeah, we know already. 
 
I was more interested in the crazy stories about the brothers' bitter feuds, which involved extensive dirty tricks operations and huge stacks of money spent on spying and counter-espionage. There are also allegations that Bill Koch (kind of a real-life J.R. Ewing, in Schulman's telling) kidnapped one of his executives, anecdotes about the Kochs' fancy women (invariably much younger than their very rich consorts) and other tales, which could probably fuel several movies.
 
One of my favorite stories concerned the Boston museum exhibit that planned to show off art and expensive bottles of wine owned by Bill Koch. One of the centerpieces of the exhibit was supposed to be several bottles of old French wine for which Bill had paid $500,000. The wine bottles were engraved "THJ," allegedly proving that they'd once been owned by Thomas Jefferson.
 
Alas, a search of the records turned up suspicions that Bill had been cheated. Further investigation showed that the engravings had been made by power tools. Bill Koch, not exactly a turn-the-other-cheek kind of guy, assembled a team of detectives and filed a barrage of lawsuits, eventually collecting large sums of money.
 
And that's just one of the stories. If you want to learn about Bill Koch's espionage when he competed in the America's Cup yacht race, read the book. 

Comments

freespeech1

Lets be fair and balanced here, How about the next story on George Soros, or Tom Styer

Contango

Re: "shady political maneuvers,"

Comes in both basic conservative and liberal flavors.

Thanks for the review.

The Big Dog's back

Oh how the right wingnuts love the rich and powerful. Maybe they'll p ss something down on 'em.

Contango

Re: "love the rich and powerful,"

Sen. Obama got a LOT of his '08 campaign cash from Wall St.

Guess he enjoyed his nice warm golden shower eh?

"Guess which President has raked in the most Wall Street bucks in a generation?"

http://hotair.com/archives/2011/...

jazzbo

Do you have a point, besides between your ears ?

freespeech1

And again the koolaid gang brings nothing but insults and idiocracy to the table.

jazzbo

freespeech1 , why don't you just disappear ?
You wont be missed.

Dr. Information

No facts from jizzgobbler.

sugar

Lol jizzgobbler,! ROTFLMAO !

jazzbo

Strange , that's what they call your mother.

jazzbo

No dimwit that was a fact.

Blackberry Phale

Vous savez que vous êtes un putain d'idiot, non?

jazzbo

ne savez-vous pas que vous êtes un trou du cul ?

freespeech1

Oh no and miss all your ignorant posts! But on the darker side it keeps me up at night knowing there are people out there as ignorant as you and the cast of the koolaid gang

jazzbo

They'll get p!ssed on , that's for sure.

abigbear

Why

holysee

you are completely wrong of course

Bottom Line

No. Wrong is bashing veterans who fight for you.

jazzbo

The Koch brothers are veterans ?

I strongly doubt that , fortunate sons don't go to war.

You must be off-topic and trying to start some shizz.

Bottom Line

@jazzbonehead

No that's not what I was referring to. But I wouldn't expect you to understand.

jazzbo

Oh , you'd be easy to understand because you're simple minded.

Blackberry Phale

Plus d'un milliard de personnes sur cette planète et plus de 50% d'entre eux sont stupides comme vous.

jazzbo

Et vous le prendre dans le cul comme un bon français.

jazzbo

freespeech1, Dr. Information ,sugar , Bottom Line , Blackberry Phale ,
all you nitwits .

Ive got a funny joke for you from Donegan .

" If i wanted my own come back i would talk to your moms."

Funny aint it ?

Donegan

They did not parrot your original post so it makes no sense. Still struggling with a joke, How pathetic.

jazzbo

You are wack job , believe it.

Donegan

That's all you got huh? I seriously feel sorry for you.

jazzbo

So , you get off by being insulted ?
Pervert.
You don't seriously feel sorry for me , liar.

Donegan

Seriously, I do feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for all those who are mentally disabled or so unstable that they seem to be.
It is not that i like to be insulted but i understand that is all you can do and you must embrace it. Hopefully someday you will grow up and maybe even become a contributing member of society but that is a awfully big step for someone like you so yeah, I do feel sorry for you. There are plenty such as yourself so you aren't alone, I feel sorry for all those afflicted with your disability. Modern Liberalism is a disease and it needs to be addressed.

jazzbo

It is your rightwing ideology that has gotten America in such the mess it is and continues to so and you think have the right way ? LOL !

Your condescending false display of sympathy is just that -- I don't feel sorry for you or care if you grow up.
Frankly , people of your mindset scare me.

Donegan

I do not need your sympathy nor did i expect it from you, I am not a child and cannot be paraded around to further a agenda. That is the only time you delusional people seem to care about anything.
Seek help, You definitely qualify for it.

jazzbo

You have a child's intellect and you are a clown in a parade of clowns.

Seek help.

Donegan

I have known parrots that hold more intelligent conversations than you.

jazzbo

...and you phuck those parrots too.

Maggdi

"beggars are easier to please"

grumpy

Good review Tom. Hard to believe some folks can see all sides and write something that is critical, mostly truthful, and entertaining while shelving his political bias. Not an easy bar to clear in these times. Few folks or families are as one demonsional as some folks on here try to paint them to be. But since those folks do seem to be one demonsional... I guess it is not so surprising. Nothing and no one is all black and white, it is mostly gray.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I agree, grumpy!

It is also good to know about the source of information, too. For instance, I have a book called "World Religions and Cults 101" (http://www.amazon.com/World-Reli...) that does this. Both the authors say plainly before anything else that while they are trying to approach each subject independently, it was fair for the readers to know that both authors were practicing Christians.

I respect that and it makes messages and opinions clearer instead of a an implied or presumed neutrality.

The Big Dog's back

Whatever.

Stop It

If anyone wants to have a hard copy book, movie or whatever type of media, this is a good place to go:

http://www.half.ebay.com/

Edit to add: The media is at considerable savings compared to amazon and such. Just because ebay is in the addy doesn't mean bid war. The books/media are priced by use or lack thereof.

ohioengineer

I am quick to criticize (fairly, I believe) the SR for its often biased reporting. As I read the title of this article, I expected more of the same liberal slant that most of their "editorials" contain. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Mr. Jackson's fair review. Good job!

The Big Dog's back

Biased reporting to you is when they print facts.

Bottom Line

What do you know about facts? You never use or cite ANY.

jazzbo

You don't bring any facts.

freespeech1

And you don't bring any intelligence so what's your point? Once just once jizzblow bring something of substance to the table.

The Big Dog's back

The only thing you consider "of substance" is right wing nuttery.

Fromthe419

Liberals love to damnate the Koch brothers because Harry Reid tells them to. I wonder how many liberals saw them for the first time when the picture was posted at the top of the article. I'd love to see a book like this written about George Soros, and yes as an independent, I do know what he looks like and I've listened to him many times on tv and print.

The Big Dog's back

It couldn't be that the koch's fund most of the right wing nuttery. Nah.

Contango

Meanwhile, the extremist American Bolsheviks get the bulk of their millions in revenue from numerous sources like Big Labor:

https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs...

Scroll down: Koch Industries show up 58th on the list.

The Big Dog's back

So why do you hate working people but lick the boots of the rich?

Contango

So why do you love the slavery of Marxism?

jazzbo

Explain what you mean by slavery , comrade Contango.

Contango

Re: "slavery,"

Your *ss belongs to the State.

"The Soviet Story":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o...

The idiotic Democrats think that they can create a 'kinder, gentler' form of socialism.

jazzbo

You didn't watch the link you sent .

It doesn't support your claim - but you do this all the time.

Grab a link and hope it supports you - then fall flat on your face.

You are a dishonest debater and phony intellectual and no better than a communist propagandist.

Contango

Re: "You are,"

Na-na, na-na, boo-boo; stick your head in doo-doo.

jazzbo

Pull your head out of your arse.

jazzbo

That what the Koch's are doing , influencing votes.

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/...

And the motive for the following HAS to be to influence the black vote.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/bl...

Dr. Information

Motherjones....bahahahahahaha. jizzgobbler needs some Tums, his stomach is upset.

jazzbo

freebullshit1-

You have no intelligence so what's your point?

freespeech1

Again infantile comments from jizzblower. Substance 0 intellect 0 stupidity? 10+ too bad you can't by brains with your EBT card.

Stop It

I for ONE am tired of the damn chest thudding and shoulder checking in the comment sections. YOU ALL know who you are. When I see a comment count suddenly I can count on it being sling s%!t and name calling at each other for 90% of the comments. Grow the f*^k up.

Gottathink

At Stop It ...with you 100%.
I'm actually appalled at the childlessness of it all.

jazzbo

Yes it is very childlessness.
It's adults.

knowitall

The book should not be named "Sons of Witchita......, but "Sons of Bitches ..... The story of the Koch Bros."

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Do you even know why you hate these people? I'd enjoy learning your detailed reasons.

knowitall

Yes, I do.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Please elaborate as you speak of them as if they ran over your cat on purpose - twice.

Make sure to bear in mind the fact that they are not the only ones who spend mega money in the political arena. Can I also presume that you have the same distaste for PAC-funding, "left-leaning" mega millionaires/organizations? I would hope so with as much personal disdain you just expressed above.

Contango

Re: "PAC-funding, "left-leaning" mega millionaires/organizations?"

Again: Take a look. Koch Inds. is # 58 on the list.

"Heavy Hitters: Top All-Time Donors, 1989-2014":

https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs...

The public unions operate taxpayer funded campaign financing slush funds for the Dems.

knowitall

I dislike the PAC system in general. I have ever since the campaign reform was changed to allow big pocket individuals, like the Koch Bros, either democrat or republican to influence simple minded people into voting their way. It makes it their country and their agenda.
I would much rather see our country able to have their leaders and policies influenced by intelligent thinking folks like yourself.....and even some of the others on these blogs, whether I agree with them or not.

jazzbo

"Sons of Bitches"... yes....very apropos.