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
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail