Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Good Guy David Koch, Meet Dark Money David Koch

On Friday, [October 4,] the David H. Koch Childcare Center will be dedicated, in a celebration that highlights a major and ongoing shift in universities’ thinking about recruiting and retaining people who do world-class research. (Boston Globe)1

Nice guy David Koch loves children. The story of MIT researchers who desperately needed childcare brought a tear to his eye. So he generously donated $20 million to MIT for a new child care center.

That sentence should gob smack you, because there is another David Koch, who uses dark money to attack democratic institutions and stifle scientific investigation. This money is called “dark” because it is filtered into front groups to prevent people from discovering where is comes from and who is behind it.

Dark money David Koch, through a complex web of front groups, donated $200 million to defeat Barack Obama and kill the Affordable Health Care Act. The Act will provide health care for millions of children who currently have no insurance. Dark money David also provides money for Tea Party candidates to get into Congress where they have used the sequester to deny Head Start childcare to 57,000 disadvantaged children. Dark money David hasn't said anything about shedding a tear for the Head Start kids.

There is a logical explanation for this behavior. David, like Mitt Romney, believes in helping the “producers” or “makers” but not the underprivileged, or “takers”. The takers comprise at least 50% of the population, but they should be left to fend for themselves because they are too incompetent to be of any use to society. The scholars at MIT, on the other hand, are valuable producers and should be helped as much as possible.

So there is no contradiction between the good deeds of Good Guy David and the underhanded skulduggery of Dark money David. Koch simply views society as divided into makers and takers and treats the two groups accordingly. Good guy David's philanthropy, while benefiting a fortunate few, has its dark side as well. For example, one of the most virulent climate change skeptics holds the Alfred P. Sloan chair for Meteorology at MIT. David Koch donates a lot of money to the college, not just the $20 million for the day care center. There could be a quid pro quo there: Koch spends millions to attack climate change scientists while MIT, which he gave money to, honors a discredited climate skeptic.

And what a skeptic. The guy's name is Richard Lindzen. Lindzen has spent the last 20 years attacking his fellow climate scientists repeatedly and in print. According to him, everyone is lying except him, and they are doing it for money and fame. Lindzen himself has received money from oil companies, including the Koch brothers, to act as a pro-oil expert. He is paid because he purports to be a climate expert, but what he says is diametrically opposed to the writings of most other experts. One report says he has been paid $2500 a day to do this.

In 1993, Lindzen appeared at a conference of climate deniers held by George Mason University's International Institute. Lindzen essentially called all mainstream climate scientists liars and fools, saying that

"scientist-activists were distorting the issues by (1) presenting only part of the data, (2) distorting logic, (3) repeatedly stating their case in apocalyptic terms, (4) announcing findings at press briefings before other scientists have had a chance to examine their research, (5) using science to advance a political agenda, for example, 'Nuclear Winter,' and (6) intimidating other scientists through coercion."2

Lindzen goes farther. He accuses climate scientists of Lysenkoism. Tiofim Lysenko was the head of Stalin's Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Since Stalin condemned Darwinism as bourgeois pseudo-science, Lysenko forbade Russian scientists to make any mention of natural selection. Scientists who resisted this edict were executed or imprisoned.

I suggest that Lindzen himself is more like Lysenko than those he attacks. His views are politically determined by the parties—the oil industry—that pay him. He holds a prestigious seat at MIT, an institution that only recently brought its global warming projections into accord with the rest of climate scientists. He denounced climatologists at a conference held at George Mason University, which received over $30 million from the Koch brothers.

The Kochs are creating the same kind of conservative echo chamber in academia that exists in the public media, where Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and Rush Limbaugh all share the same opinions and repeat the same distortions of reality. The Kochs are unable to convince actual scientists that global warming does not exist, but they are creating a small enclave of academic institutions who preach that up is down, economic recession is good, and Ayn Rand is always right.

1David Koch funds Day Care at MIT, Boston Globe, Health and Wellness, 10/3/03,
2Scientific Integrity in the Public Policy Process,

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