Transcript: Thom Hartmann & Robert Greenwald - What are the Kochs up to now? August 29, 2011

Thom Hartmann: Fair and only slightly unbalanced. Welcome back to the second hour of our program, Thom Hartmann here with you. In the last hour we had on Brian Hughes of the Washington Examiner, the conservative local paper here in DC. Does President Obama really own this economy and where is that going to go? We’ll get back to that and a few of the other political tactics and strategies. Michelle Bachmann saying that God’s trying to send us a message with the strange weather. What might that message be? We’ll talk about that.

But right now, Robert Greenwald is on the line. The film maker, political activist, founder of Brave New Films, one of the really truly extraordinary human beings on this earth at this moment. I don’t know where we’d be without you, Robert. @RobertGreenwald the Twitter. his latest adventure. Robert, welcome to the program.

Robert Greenwald: Thank you Thom, it’s wonderful to be with you.

Thom Hartmann: Thank you. Very pleased to have you. And there’s a new majority in the Wake County, North Carolina school board. Do I have that right?

Robert Greenwald: You do have that right. It’s actually been about six months now and the new majority is due to the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity undertaking a long term campaign to change the way people think about education, to change the way they think about public education and to destroy a school system that was one of the best in terms of economic, social diversity. It’s really quite tragic but it does show the impact of their dollars and the way that they are reaching out across not just federal elections and not just state elections but very local ones.

Thom Hartmann: And let me point out by the way that Koch is spelt K-O-C-H, not as in the drink, but so, K-O-C-H. These, in your piece, and people can go to and watch the video, there’s a series of segments now, you’re up to what number five right now?

Robert Greenwald: Yes we are they can go there and they’re also on Koch Brothers ExposedFacebook where there’s a fantastic group of 15 thousand or so people who are very active in helping get the word around about these and also as you said on Twitter.

Thom Hartmann: Great. Great. And you talk about Rita Rackenstraw and Karen Simon who were, you know, school board candidates. And they had no idea that Americans for Prosperity, people think of Americans for Prosperity and they think you know the big group behind the tea party, they think the funders of major republican candidates, you know a group that might be supporting, maybe supported John McCain I don’t know, but you know, you think of them as a big national group, I mean this is Dick Army, he’s a multimillionaire, a very powerful guy. I don’t think most people think of Americans for Prosperity, (A) I don’t think they realize that it’s one of the Koch brothers front groups or that they’re big funders of it shall we say, and (B) I don’t think that they realize that this big national group is going to, well these two women said we came to a gunfight armed with knives. That they’re going to go into a local school board election with millions of dollars? Or hundreds of thousands.

Robert Greenwald: Well the Koch brothers, yes hundreds of thousands. They are driven by ideology. And their ideology and their, what serves their economic self interests and we’ve talked about this, Thom, and you’ve done an absolutely brilliant job in helping people understand how all of this works. Their ideology, their economic self interest. Part of that is proving that government can do nothing. And one of the pillars of government in addition to social security which we understand they’re attacking, one of the pillars of government is of course public education. So we see that the Koch brothers, listen to this, have given over 20 million dollars to think tanks in DC, and those think tanks are turning out papers attacking public education. Then you see those attacks taken and used at the local level by Americans for Prosperity, laying a ground work, laying a frame work and getting people to really question, gee is public education working. And in this case, the code words are all southern words around you know bussing and local education.

Thom Hartmann: Forced busing. Forced busing is the word they used. The phrase. I’m old enough to remember George Wallace, segregation now! Segregation forever! In fact you end your clip with that. Let’s talk about this, and they created this alliance, in this particular, in Wake County North Carolina with the Wake County Community Alliance, the Wake County Citizens for Quality Education, Wake Cares, the Wake County Republican Party, the republican party, I get that, that is an institution. Are these other three institutions inventions of AFP, or the Koch brothers or are they, or did they spring out, where did they come from?

Robert Greenwald: Well as we know with the Koch brothers again what they do is they’re using the laws brilliantly so that we can’t find out what and who and how they’re funding because they funded institutions that have helped turn over those laws. You know, they’ve been big funders of many of the organizations that filed the supreme court decision around Citizen United. So I don’t mean this in a paranoid way but I actually think there’s something for us all to learn here, how they fund ideas, they fund long term, they fund the tax on the judicial system and they fund the tax on laws they don’t like. So it’s a long answer to say one thing we know for sure, we do not have all the information on who they’re funding, what they’re funding and how they’re funding. That’s for sure.

Thom Hartmann: Right. And, and, they’re, but the net effect of this change in the school board to have these Americans for Prosperity candidates, these libertarian candidates, is going to be, you’re arguing, the resegregation of some of the North Carolina schools?

Robert Greenwald: Yes. And we’re seeing it already. 700 students have been resegregated. We have in the video an interview, it’s quite powerful, with a young man who has been resegregated who has been taken from his friends, his colleagues. And there’s a school opening, it was just in the paper yesterday, it’s one of the first schools in this district that’s essentially a resegregated school where they put people who are poorer, people of color, people who have not been doing as well into one school because they do it around geography versus what they had was a very effective program cutting across economic, socioeconomic lines and people in the community were loving this Thom. That’s what breaks your heart when you see this video. Here’s a local school, people were loving it, and the Koch brothers, with their ideology and their self interest, using Americans for Prosperity to convince people this is not the way you want your kids to go to school.

Thom Hartmann: In the minute and a half or so we have, Robert, can you describe the libertarian ideology of these guys? And I know it’s very hip right now because they’re popular because of Ron Paul, he’s libertarian. I’m guessing he would agree with this.

Robert Greenwald: Yes. Ron Paul believes there’s no government rules of any kind. And I think the Koch brothers, I think in some ways it’s more self serving because they are opposed to any laws of any kind that limit their ability to profit and to take advantage of local communities to put any restrictions on their corporate enterprises, on their factories. And so we’re seeing an organized assault using libertarian principals but driven by greed, pure and simple. And the two work very well, they work hand in hand. And it’s also important that people understand ideology has consequences. There are human victims at the center of what they’re doing.

Thom Hartmann: Well aren’t libertarian principles and greed is good the same thing? I mean the libertarian world view is if everybody operated in their own self interest, period, you’d have a utopia.

Robert Greenwald: Yes. And of course we know the exact opposite. But yes, that’s exactly it. And the Kochs have been advocating that for many years, back with their father who was a John Bircher and have can now, I guess the libertarians might not accept all of John Birch, but it’s certainly been a long ongoing tradition where they’re willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in all aspects to essentially try to buy democracy by pushing at the various pressure point which are subjected to money and influence.

Thom Hartmann: Or buy the institutions of democracy so they can be shut down, or controlled or regulated, or whatever the appropriate word would be. But something that doesn’t look like small d democracy any longer, it seems. At least in our opinions. Obviously they, I think they actually have a different opinion.

Robert Greenwald: Yes, they do.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah, okay. So the website and get thee over there and check it out. This is really important. and there’s links to the facebook page and everything else. Robert Greenwald, Brave New Films. Thank you Robert.

Robert Greenwald: My pleasure, Thom, thank you.

Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.

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