UPDATED: See addendum at end

Gasoline prices are soaring across America, despite record supplies and lower than normal demand. Analysts pretty much agree the main reason for the soaring prices is Wall Street speculation -- investors buying up oil futures and bidding up the price on the bet that world economic turmoil will turn them a profit.

The other reason for the gasoline price surge of the past few weeks (prices are past five bucks a gallon in California, less in other places) is the calculated attempt by conservative business and political interests to hang a big weight around Barack Obama's neck. For conservative political interests, it's a two-fer: get rid of the administration that's trying to put you to task while promoting alternative energy, and do it in a way that pads your own bank account.

The most maddening part of this is that some of the very one percenters who are speculating in oil prices in order to turn windfall profits at the expense of average Americans are the same people behind funding massive political campaign attacks on Obama and other Democrats, pointing the finger of blame at them.

None of these self-serving interests are more culpable than Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a conservative lobby group -- actually, it's a 501(c)(3) organization that, legally, is banned by the US tax code from any political activity. AFP is spending tens of millions of dollars on outright political campaign ads nationwide. Among the backers of that secretive but increasingly outed organization are the Koch brothers, holders of Koch Industries, a big player in the oil business.

Take a bite out of your hydrocarbon-based cheese sandwich as you click past the fold to read more:

Koch Industries owns vast chemical and mineral interests. It refines oil and ships oil through pipelines running across large swaths of America. It has a long history of pollution violations and has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars by regulators in recent years. Further, the firm has been instrumental in pushing for the environmentally dangerous Keystone XL pipeline that would run from northern Canada to Texas, risking major aquifers along the way.

In Wisconsin, AFP has so far spent $700,000 running ads that basically sound like campaign commercials for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who is likely going to face a recall election later this year. Koch Industries has business interests in Wisconsin, including pipeline operations. It has been mentioned as a possible shadow suitor for a group of state-owned, coal-fired power plants that Walker at one point planned to put up for sale to the private market.

ThinkProgress, the progressive issues organization, recently listed a number of campaigns the Koch-funded AFP is into right now. Those campaigns are all blatantly anti-environmental while projecting Koch's own sins onto Obama and Democrats. A summary list:

The Please Don’t Blame Oil Companies for High Gas Prices Campaign : In June, AFP announced it was launching a “Running on Empty” tour to try to falsely blame President Obama for high gas prices. The tour was funded in part by the profits Koch Industries made as a result of high oil prices.

Attacking the Clean Air Act:Various Koch groups, but especially AFP, have tried to gut the Clean Air Act in order to prevent the EPA from using its regulatory powers to protect public health from the dangers caused by global warming pollution.

Attacking Regional Cap-and-Trade Programs: AFP has launched an all-out assault on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s successful regional cap-and-trade system.

Attacking State-Level Renewable Electricity Standards: Politico reports that AFP is considering strategies for killing Renewable Electricity Standards in “some three dozen states,” including Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Attacking Natural Gas Vehicles: While Koch rakes in billions in annual subsidies as a result of oil and ethanol businesses, among others, AFP launched a campaign against legislation to incentivize the use and production of natural gas vehicles. The campaign’s main attack on the legislation: that it’s a “subsidy.”

See more from ThinkProgress on this at http://thinkprogress.org/...

ThinkProgress last year also directly fingered the Koch brothers as heavy-duty oil speculators. The case is laid out at: http://thinkprogress.org/...

The latter piece documents how outfits like AFP and "Citizens for the Environment" -- a Koch-fueled outfit that really should have been named "Oil Companies Against the Environment" --push out their heavily funded lies, while in private manipulating higher oil prices. From the April 2011 piece at ThinkProgress:

Currently, the public knows very little about the oil speculation industry because a conservative majority on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has refused to implement a mandate from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill to curb abuses. Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing steep cuts to the CFTC, hampering any new rules on oil speculation that may be released later this summer. Fortunately, both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the CFTC have so far survived the latest round of budget cuts.
Fellow Kos blogger Puddytat earlier today posted a piece on why AFP may be in trouble with the IRS. Read it at http://www.dailykos.com/...

A Feburary 2011 DailyKos blog fingered the Kochs as a power behind the Keystone pipeline project, even while Koch-funded groups attacked Obama for taking a cautious approach based on environmental concerns. See: http://www.dailykos.com/...

In short, the Koch brothers and their gigantic corporation are busy polluting for fun and profit while spending tens of millions of dollars promoting further deregulation and trying to pin all the blame for high petrol prices on Democrats. That's beyond cynical. It's anti-democratic and grossly manipulative.

The Kochs and their billions arguably represent a menace to democracy, one made all the worse by the Citizens United case in which the Supreme Court allowed virtually unlimited and hugely anonymous campaign spending by shadowy special interest groups.

But what progressives already have managed to learn about the nation's Koch problem is troubling enough. We haven't seen power-mongering robber barons like this since the last days of the 19th Century. The good news is that citizens of conscience stopped those rapacious cretins once before, and we are on the way to stopping them once again.

On the same I originally filed this post, Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate announced the party was filing formal complaints questioning the nonprofit status of Americans For Prosperity after recent comments David Koch made in a Florida newspaper. Tate said the party was filing a compliant with the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state. He said the party also was forwarding a copy of the compliant to the Internal Revenue Service.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/...


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