Comment of the day: The apples-and-oranges difference between Begich money and Sullivan money

Here’s an comment from a reader on the story about the amount of money the Senate Majority PAC is putting into races versus the amount that the Koch brothers are putting in. The gist of the comment: Koch-brothers money is bad because the Kochs are bad, and money supporting Democrats is good. It’s an interesting, representative summary of the left’s view on the issue. (But because group-think on either side makes me nervous, click here for a more nuanced look at the Kochs.)

I remember when Kerry was running against Bush, maybe you all have forgotten. Back then there was an awful lot of valid criticism that Bush/Cheney were propped up by the military industrial complex. This line of attack started to gain some traction and the retort was: BUT KERRY IS PROPPED UP BY TONS OF MONEY FROM THE HEINZ CORPORATION!!!

Let me remind you all of the difference between apples and oranges.

The best thing you can come up with when you talk about the difference between Begich’s line of funding and Sullivan’s, is that Begich is being supported by “anti-gun activists” this line coming right out of the NRA playbook. I’m not going to waste more than a breath trying to explain to you how no one is coming for your guns, or that we have a desperately serious problem with gun violence in this country that is making us the societal laughingstock of the world. Begich’s cash flow includes people who want us to rationally think about the implications of our gun laws. There’s an apple for you.

How about an orange? The Koch brothers are a different class of creature. They are not a group of like-minded activists,

they are two incomprehensibly rich men who have gotten to the point where they have maxed out the private sector capacities of their firms to grow exorbitantly. They can only accomplish further sickening windfalls by continuing to manipulate government in their own image. They are inserting their tentacles into higher education via insidious grants designed to prop up professors who echo their own selfish agenda. They demonize anything and everything they can in the pursuit of this pipe dream of a “free market”- a market where they are free to pillage and plunder as they wish.

What you have when you compare Begich’s money stream to Sullivan’s money stream is: philanthropists focused on some progressive issues vs. insanely corrupt, greedy, heartless SOBs who seek to create even more wealth for themselves before they croak.

And yes, yes I know the Koch brothers do charitable works, and yes they have donated to this and… let’s compare the totals shall we? Koch brothers spend just enough on charity to try and give their sycophantic apologists enough ammo to dispel attack. It’s the same way some among us defend how the uber-rich pay lower income tax rates: “they pay more than you will in your entire life.” Look at the percentages.

There was a difference between Bush and Kerry. Bush wanted to sell our country deeper in debt to jack up Halliburton, Raytheon, Blackwater, Northrop-Grumman, etc. and he did. He made it rain for them. Look at Halliburton’s stock price during the Bush administration and recall when they overcharged us, whoops, a billion for gas. There is a difference between Begich and Sullivan. Think about it.


17 thoughts on “Comment of the day: The apples-and-oranges difference between Begich money and Sullivan money

  1. OP

    “A sophmoric diatribe with no perspective, probably fueled by the liberal professor whose poly sci 101 class he attended.”

    I setup my comments with the historical example of the GWB/Kerry race, and so I’ll respond to this quote too with wisdom from the same era:

    When we were poised to enter deeper into the “global war on terror”, and Bush & Co tried to sell the war in Iraq to the American people, there was a vociferous group of scholars who were adamantly opposed to military operations in Iraq. Among these were professors of middle eastern history, individuals with an actual learned clue about the region we were headed into, guns blazing. They were demonized on Fox News for being “un-American.” When one attempted to explain, calmly, that engaging in a war in Iraq would only “destabilize the region” we were met with the all-too-familiar chorus “if you don’t like this country, GET OUT.”

    So now, that we live with a “destabilized region,” maybe you ought to think twice before trotting out the old “blame the liberal professor” routine.

    The fact of the matter is that conservatives believe there is nothing wrong with infinite wealth. That it comes, always, fairly. Unless there is a crime broken, get off their backs! That’s cute, because that’s exactly what ALEC tries to do: change the law so they don’t have to break it.

  2. Bethany

    Amanda, I can’t believe you manage to post as much as you do, while still seemingly being everywhere.

  3. Garand Fellow

    You’re exactly correct. In any society there will be people who work hard and long, and there will be lazy people. In societies where government has huge amounts of power the hard-working people receive power over others in return for their hard work. In societies where government has less power the hard-working people have to settle for million-dollars sports cars and business jets.

    As post-War United States transitioned to a country where the federal government controls everything it was completely predictable that money would begin flowing to purchase power over people; that is what government has to trade for money (to sell if you like). If you don’t like George Soros and the Koch brothers using their money to buy influence over government (and over people ruled and regulated by that government) then working for smaller, weaker government is the only answer. Currently I think that 47% of the US population is on the dole, we have just adopted national health care, and Social Security is the largest government program in the history of the world; so government power over Americans is incredibly high and therefore very valuable to people who have lots of money.

  4. Garand Fellow

    Contrary to what this reader says, everyone I know envies the gun rights we have in Alaska. Note that many states and cities do not have our gun rights. Just this summer many people in White Horse and Carcross told me that gun rights are the one reason they frequently consider emigrating.

    Pick up any one of Obama’s biographies and you can see that he intended to come for our guns. Read the strategies of the anti-gun groups and you can see that for the moment the gun-grabbers have decided to begin with so-called universal background checks. That allows gun confiscation as has occurred in the State of New York recently. Universal background checks is the same as gun registration. Gun registration has led to universal gun confiscation in Chicago, NYC, a few states, Nazi Germany, the USSR and modern day Russia, Canada, Australia, and many other locations.

  5. Garand Fellow

    Your perspective is so different from my own, and your understanding of history is so different from anything I have read, heard or seen that I cannot believe we have lived in the same country for a period of time. Having senators elected by voters has markedly increased the power of the federal government at the expense of states’ rights.

    Alaska has had a huge impact on the national agenda time after time. One reason is that we have often had powerful senators. Another reason is the strategic location of Alaska, and that might play out again in the next world war or it might not.

    Each state must work on its own problems, and many of those problems are caused by the federal government. Alaska is especially disadvantaged because so much of Alaska is federal land.

  6. Straitlaced Radical

    A unsubstantiated, vitriolic diatribe. Having wealth does not make someone inherently bad, no matter their ideology. And why shouldn’t someone who has amassed financial resources be able to use those to support causes he or she believes in, whether they be philanthropic or political?

    If you want to take away the power of money in politics, the way to do it is to limit the power the government has over individuals and the private sector. If the government did not have the ability to regulate anything and everything, there would not be an incentive for those with money influence it to the same degree that now exists to try to get a favorable result, whether they are on the right or the left. If the playing field was level when it comes to taxes, regulations, the government picking winners and losers in the business world (GM, Solyndra, “banks too big to fail,” and the list goes on), and if government stuck to its core responsibilities under the Constitution, these issues would begin to dissipate. I don’t know if it’s even possible to get back to that situation from where the country is now, but in any race, I will always support the candidate who is less inclined to increase the control of the government over everyday life, regardless of party label, how much money is spend, or how many ads are run.

    I don’t know the Kochs or much about them, but with the Obama Administration’s general assault on on resource development, I wouldn’t blame them for spending some of their money to see candidates with a different worldview elected. And for all the talk of “the evil Koch brothers,” has anyone alleged they’ve actually done something illegal? Are they bribing officials, or committing other crimes? If so, they should be prosecuted like anyone else who breaks the law should be. If not, leave them alone.

  7. Anonymous

    A sophmoric diatribe with no perspective, probably fueled by the liberal professor whose poly sci 101 class he attended. Substitute George Soros for the Kochs, Solyndra or the UAW for Halliburton and Obama for Bush and you have the same rant. The largest contributor in the Senate races, Begich included, is Harry Reid’s Super Pac, not the socially conscious philanthropists the writer naively refers to. Bottom line, there’s lots of money and motives from both sides, for better or worse. Can’t believe Amanda even posted this drivel. I’ll stick to Krauthammer for my political commentary, thank you very much.

  8. Mike

    Amanda, I realized that I came to your website yesterday and today trying to find (and failed) your Inside Outside post. Is it not an everyday thing? Will it become an everyday thing?

  9. Lynn Willis

    Three to 4 billion per year would certainly help; however, it is not the panacea you seek. Because of its’ comparative value to gas the only solution is oil revenue or to generate the necessary revenues from other than oil, the earnings of the Permanent Fund. Speaking of resources, I don’t believe we have the resource to solve this problem currently sitting the Governor’s chair. Hopefully we will soon solve that aspect of the “entire picture”.

  10. Lynn Willis

    We will need every penny of that savings. That should not be considered a cash reserve that could possibly be replenished in our life times. Yesterday I attended the morning session of the Forum on Alaska’s Fiscal future held at the Loussac Library. The only good news is that we have these savings. Professor Scott Goldsmith made the observation that in the next few years earnings from the Permanent Fund will exceed oil revenue. Currently these revenues are distributed to Alaskans and put back into savings – they are currently not used to fund state government. An amazing graph was shown using color striations to identify the sources of State revenue over the last decades. A wide striation represented earnings from the Permanent Fund. That colored striation completely disappeared from the graph during the period of the recent stock market collapse as was reflected in the five year running average in our PFD checks. That should give us pause as to the reliability of that source of income.
    Regarding your AKLNG project that will save the day; I have researched the testimony to find the data on cost overruns for projects similar to AKLNG presented by Enalytica (consultants to the legislature). Of the sixteen projects listed 2 had no cost overrun date, 4 were on budget and the remaining 10 are experiencing cost overruns of 120% (Sakhalin-2), 45.9% (Australia Gorgon), 30% (Australia North West Shelf), 36.7%(Australia Queensland Curtis), 33% (Pluto), 26.7% (Papua New Guinea), 21.6% (Yemen), 21.5% (Norway Snohvit), 15.6% (Australia Gladstone LNG), and 2.6% in Peru. So assuming your 45 billion estimate is wrong by just the overruns in Peru we now have a project costing 46 billion and with our 25% equity that represents a cool 250 million additional cost. Now I am sure you don’t want to go with 65 billion estimate and what happened to the Russians or maybe even the Australians.
    I am certain, given the legislature’s granting of confidential status to themselves and AKLNG, that is that last data we will see on cost overruns as that data might place us in a less than optimal bargaining position will potential buyers.
    I would not bet the farm on AKLNG and even then it will represent perhaps 3 to 4 billion per year which might not be enough given our very probable declining oil revenues. The viable “resources” we have are ending the PFD distribution and using PFD revenues for state spending, instituting state taxes on Alaskans, and/or reducing state spending to match revenues. So what other options do we have?
    I am not willing to vote for someone who suggests all is well (or certainly not that bad), that this is a temporary problem and a Giga Project gas line will save the day.

  11. Samuel Abney

    I think the comment amounts to far more than what you made it out to be. The commenter makes a very good point. Koch money is very different from even the larger PAC’s. The Koch’s do just want to manipulate government to make more money. I don’t see the blatant hackism to which you are pointing.

  12. Jon K

    Lynn, how many state governments, or countries for that matter, have about $70 billion in savings? How many state governments have a $45-65 billion project moving forward that, if realized, is expected to genereate $3-4 billion in revenue? How many state governments don’t need their citizens to pay a dime for the cost of state government?

    We have problems, but you need to look at the entire picture and realize that we have the resources to come up with manageable solutions.

  13. Lynn Willis

    The writer makes a very valid point which bears consideration regarding the source of outside financial influence on our Senatorial election.
    What if we hadn’t invoked the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution and our legislature chose our US Senators? Do you think Murkowski or Begich would be in office today? Would Dan Sullivan have a chance? How much worse can it get from the influence of outside secretive money on this contest? Wasn’t the 17th Amendment meant to end the ability to purchase “the finest US Senator money could buy”?
    This senatorial race is a struggle for a national agenda that very little to do directly with Alaska. If we benefit from that struggle; fine, if we don’t with only 700,000 citizens impacted: who cares? Our influence on the national agenda is minimal. I understand that on any given issue decided by a simple majority from a population of 100 voters, the first vote is as important as the 51st; however, if you assume this Senate race will quickly and directly save us from our immediate pending crisis in Alaska, especially regarding having revenues to match spending, I fear you are going to be disappointed.
    Our most serious problems are local and so must be the solutions. We need to work on them without expecting much, if any, help from a debt laden Federal Government. God knows we have enough issues at the State and Municipal level to keep us concerned.

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