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MSNBC: Mark Ames and Yasha Levine
Broke the Koch Brothers' Takeover of America
Yasha Levine

Michael Dell: “I’m smiling because I force Lone Star peasants to pay my property taxes!”


A version of this article was first published by The Nation

For all those feeling the pinch this Tax Day, rest assured America’s wealthiest one percent have no idea what you’re going through. Not only have they shaved over a $100 billion off their income taxes thanks to Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, but, thanks to misuse of agricultural tax breaks, many did not have to pay their property taxes, either.

Take Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers and the second-richest Texan, who qualified for an agricultural property tax break on his sprawling 1,757-acre residential ranch in suburban Austin and saved over $1 million simply because his family and friends sometimes use the land as a private hunting preserve to shoot deer. Or take billionaire publisher Steve Forbes, who got more than a 90 percent property tax reduction on hundreds of acres of his multimillion dollar estate in upscale Bedminister, New Jersey, just by putting a couple of cows out to pasture. They are not alone. All across the country, a huge number of America’s wealthiest are tapping into agricultural tax breaks—and none of them have to do any real farming to qualify. (more…)

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Posted: April 14th, 2011

People don’t seem that interested in talking about Wall Street’s unpunished and ongoing rape of America anymore these days. And that’s too bad. Because Koch Industries has a lot more in common with Wall Street than most people realize.

Here’s a hint to how deeply the Kochs are involved in the same shady financial machinations we usually associate with Wall Street scammers: an investigation just released by the Center for Public Integrity reveals that the Kochs were major players in the fight against financial regulation in 2009 and 2010, bankrolling an army of lobbyists who swarmed Congress and shredded the fin-reg bill. (more…)

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Posted: April 9th, 2011

So by now you’ve probably heard that Charles and David Koch are really really dedicated to libertarianism. They’re not just interested in screwing Americans with regressive 18th century economic policies, but also support noble positions that even far-leftists should be able to get behind. One of the big ones is: they are opposed to war and empire.

Well, at least that’s what libertarians say.


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Posted: March 25th, 2011


Charles Koch—Moms, keep him away from your kids!

It’s official: the Kochs pay social media PR companies to troll the Internet on their behalf.

According to Lee Fang over at ThinkProgress, an internal Wikipedia investigation revealed that a number of Wikipedia users making pro-Koch edits were actually sock puppets set up by employees at an Internet marketing company called New Media Strategies. After being outed, a New Media Strategies rep all but confirmed the findings of the Wikipedia investigation: (more…)

Posted: March 18th, 2011

Why are American taxpayers forced to subsidize the billionaire Koch brothers’ massive campaign contributions to Republican Party politicians, the Tea Party movement, and policies that ensure greater subsidies to the Kochs, while cutting more public services to the taxpayers who fund the Kochs’ business and political activities?

It is an important question, but not one you’ll hear discussed much by our political class. Instead, right-wing pundits whinge endlessly about the public sector union bosses’ evil schemes to shake down taxpayers for union dues that eventually flow towards the Democratic Party. (more…)

Posted: March 3rd, 2011

yasha levine victorville front page newspaper

I’ve been living in Venice Beach for the past few months, convalescing after almost two years of immersion-reporting out of Victorville, California–the front lines of California’s real estate meltdown. Life out in Victorville, a remote exburb on the edge of the Mojave Desert, might be lighter on the wallet, but it can be very tough on the body and mental health–especially if one isn’t careful with the, er, shall we call them “attention-deficit-disorder brain snacks.” I often wondered what the hell I was doing out there, what I’d done to myself, if it was all worth it–and, to be honest, I didn’t have the stomach to revisit it. I was there too long.

Then yesterday, Dylan Ratigan devoted an entire excellent segment of his MSNBC show to Victorville’s  real-estate-market collapse and its aftermath, and he threw a shout out to my reporting for The eXiled Online for having inspired his segment. It was even kind of weirdly gratifying seeing Ratigan interview the new mayor of Victorville, whom I was never a big fan of, to put it lightly. (more…)

Posted: February 1st, 2011


Yes, the Kochs are everywhere. Even under our feet.

See that plush red and blue carpet cascading down the steps of the United States Capitol building, framing President Barack Obama as he makes his historic inaugural address? It’s made from material manufactured by a Koch Industries subsidiary called Invista.

Yes, that’s right. You heard it here first: Charles and David Koch made the carpet used in Barak Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. Liberals might have worshiped the ground Obama walked on, but the Kochs owned and manufactured the carpeting covering that hallowed ground.  What makes it all so creepy is that just a month after that carpet was rolled up and Obama took his place in the White House, the Koch brothers launched the Tea Party revolt against their carpeting client. (more…)

Posted: January 27th, 2011