FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Coke Brothers Conspiracy

by PAUL KRASSNER

I was fortunate enough to accompany Ken Kesey and his psychedelic Band of Merry Pranksters when the Grateful Dead played the Pyramids–and won–at a series of outdoor concerts in 1978. During that week, Kesey and I were dinner guests at the home of an Egyptian family in Cairo. Later, the men smoked hashish from a huge hookah. The women stayed in the kitchen, and I grumbled to Kesey about that gender gap.

“When in Rome,” he responded, “do as the Egyptians do.”

A shy six-year-old girl was peeking us through a beaded curtain, and I waved to her. She waved back, giggled and disappeared. But I have not the slightest doubt that now, at the age of 39, she was among the countless female protestors celebrating in the streets those early tremors of freedom. Were no longer to be considered second-class citizens? However, 95% of Egyptian women had been victims of genital mutilation (forced clitoral circumcision was banned in 1997), gang rapes are still occurring, and political patriarchy continues to undermine their equality.

On the same Sunday in January 2011 that the revolution in Egypt was peaking, I found myself in Rancho Mirage, California, at a rally against David and Charles Koch—pronounced “coke”—and so I call them the Coke brothers. Many placards featured the Coca-Cola logo on a red background, with the slogan, “Everything goes better without Koch.”

The multi-billionaire Coke brothers—funders and manipulators of the Tea Party; oil merchants who opposed reduction of air pollution, claiming that smog prevents skin cancer–were now hosting a secret meeting with 200 wealthy elitists at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort, heavily guarded by sixty Riverside County sheriff’s deputies in riot gear.

Incidentally, the sheriff is actually named Stan Sniff.

The Coke brothers were beneficiaries of the 2009 Supreme Court decision that granted personhood to corporations, meaning that they could clandestinely support conservative politicians without any accountability, and in 2010 the Court ruling that corporations—and unions, which the Coke brothers are attempting to demolish–could spend unlimited sums on campaign advertising.

The anti-Coke rally was held in a parking lot across the street from the resort. Jim Hightower—activist and the author of There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos and Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow–was speaking. “These Justices are as confused as goats on astroturf,” he told the audience of 1,000. “We need to pass a constitutional amendment that says a corporation does not have the rights of a person.”

Two weeks later, the mystery behind the Coke brothers conclave would be revealed, linking them to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Koch Industries—which employs 70,000 people—had been the largest corporate contributor to his campaign, so it’s no surprise that Walker was busy sucking up to his puppeteers as he followed their wishes to destroy the American labor movement. In fact, Americans for Prosperity, a front group for the Coke brothers—which organized a rally in Wisconsin to support the governor–has launched a website which propagandizes against all collective bargaining.

The dedicated protesters in Madison were inspiring, and it was the brilliant political prank phone call to Governor Walker from blogger Ian Murphy pretending to be David Koch that inadvertently disclosed the mindset Walker shared with the real David Koch. Fake David said, “We’ll back you any way we can. But what we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.” Walker replied, “We thought about that,” but he was only afraid the plan might backfire.

At the “Uncloak Koch” rally, Jim Hightower had said, “I hate to be rude and intrude on a secret meeting, but there comes a time when America’s imperiled democracy requires ordinary grass root people to rebel, and to be rude enough to intrude on the people applauding corporate plutocrats who are so rude as to usurp our democratic rights.

“Listen, this billionaires’ caucus thought that they could meet secretly, but you pulled back the curtain on them behind which they had been hiding—such front groups as Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, the Federalist Society, Freedom Works, even the Tea Party themselves—we pulled back the curtain and there they are, Charles and David, the modern-day Wizards of Oz, only Ozier, don’t you think?”

Later, while police were dispersing the demonstrators, conservative media manipulator Andrew Breitbart–who had brought along his protégé, video propagandist James O’Keefe–entered the scene on rollerblades and heckled the crowd through a bullhorn: “We’ve had a great day,” he shouted sarcastically. “Let’s all go to Applebee’s!” A couple of months later, Breitbart would be on CNN, complaining to Piers Morgan that O’Keefe is “held to a different standard. In the history of journalism, you have people like Hunter Thompson, PAUL KRASSNER and Abbie Hoffman, who’ve been outrageous in trying to get their points across and have used journalism to do so . . .”

I went backstage to see Jim Hightower. He had flown in from Texas for the Coke Brothers event and was energized by the spirit of the rally. “It ain’t Egypt, though,” I observed.

“Not exactly,” he chuckled.

The Egyptian people want to have regular elections just like we do here in America, as epitomized by the sexist slogan, “One man, one vote.” Unfortunately, when the Supreme Court (5-4) designated George Bush as president after his contentious campaign against Al Gore in 2000, that “one man” happened to be Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Years later, after her retirement, O’Connor said that she thought her decision had been a mistake. But, then, we all make mistakes, right?

Anyway, I was pleased that, at the 2011 Academy Awards, a couple of lesser-known winners stressed in their acceptance speeches the importance of unions and collective bargaining. However, I was disappointed that The King’s Speech, recipient of the Oscar for best picture, didn’t end like a Looney Tunes cartoon, with Porky Pig in the center of shrinking concentric circles, saying, “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!”

PAUL KRASSNER is the editor of The Realist. His books include: Pot Stories for the Soul, One Hand Jerking and Murder at the Conspiracy Convention. He is author of many books including Who’s to Say What’s Obscene?, published by City Lights Books. He can be reached through his website: http://paulkrassner.com/.

 

Paul Krassner is the editor of The Realist. His books include: <a

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail