Rumblings of Boycotts are Not Boycotts

As I suspected would happen, the Koch boycott idea is gaining traction fast. That's why I hacked together this primer last week, hoping to encourage and/or report on more formalized embodiments of the idea as they emerged. I still haven't learned of one worth repeating, but I expect to any day now.

The Koch Industries Empire is Vast

Koch Industries is one of the two largest privately owned companies in America, with holdings in almost every industry sector, but energy and paper are two very big interests.

I am leery of tossing around the B-word casually, but as @Stopbeck proved, there are many kinds of boycott-type consumer actions, and when properly conceived and executed, they can be and have been effective.  And while it's certainly easier to bring pressure on public companies, even private empires hate losing money.

While coal and electricity are tough to boycott, Koch has many other revenue streams. Some associates and I have been working on a robust database of products and brands that would be useful for a real boycott against Koch. In the meantime, this list, by Daily Kos write Geebeebee, provides a pretty good glimpse of the big products in this empire of evil:

As always, your Retweets help a lot. See the button below.

The Products of Koch Industries

Consumer products
Georgia Pacific
Building products
Angel Soft toilet paper
Brawny paper towels
Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups
Mardi Gras napkins and towels
Quilted Northern toilet paper
Soft 'n Gentle toilet paper
Sparkle napkins
Vanity fair napkins
Zee napkins
Georgia-Pacific paper products and envelop
Dense Armor Drywall and Decking
ToughArmor Gypsum board
Georgia pacific Plytanium Plywood
Densglass sheathing
G/P Industrial plasters (some products used by a lot of crafters)
   Agricultural Plaster
   Arts & Crafts Plaster
   Dental Plaster
   General Purpose Plaster
   Glass-reinforced Gypsum (GRG)
   Industrial Tooling Plaster
   Investment Casting Plaster
   Medical Plaster
   Metal Casting Plaster
   Pottery Plaster

FibreStrong Rim board
G/P Lam board
Blue Ribbon OSB Rated Sheathing
Blue Ribbon Sub-floor
DryGuard Enhanced OSB
Nautilus Wall Sheathing
Thermostat OSB Radiant Barrier Sheathing
Broadspan Engineered Wood Products
XJ 85 I-Joists
FireDefender Banded Cores
FireDefender FS
FireDefender Mineral Core
Hardboard and Thin MDF including Auto Hardboard,
Perforated Hardboard and Thin MDF
Wood Fiberboard –
Commercial Roof Fiberboard
Hushboard Sound Deadening Board
Regular Fiberboard Sheathing
Structural Fiberboard Sheathing

COMFOREL® fiberfill
COOLMAX® fabric
CORDURA® fabric
DACRON® fiber
SOLARMAX® fabric
SOMERELLE® bedding products
SUPPLEX® fabric
TACTEL® fiber
TACTESSE® carpet fiber
TERATE® polyols
TERATHANE® polyether glycol
PHENREZ® resin
POLARGUARD® fiber and
LYCRA® fiber

The Koch Brand Logos To Watch For (And Avoid)

Boycotts and Strikes Are Never Easy Projects

Again, I suspected the Koch boycott idea would pick up speed as the Wisconsin protests continued to grow. But until I see a real (organized and funded) project that can make do a sustained effort, I'm going to refrain from saying there's a real boycott under way. And while I think one would be important, I would much rather spend my energies with the general strike idea, something I have been advocating for many years.  It's our best available tool if we are to ever really get serious about challenging the plutocratic regime that has seized the United States, while everyone was busy working for it.

I created this short URL ( to give folks some background about general strikes. I plan to write a full-blown primer soon.

About Koch Industries

Koch Industries, (pronounced "coke"), is the largest privately owned company in the United States with 70,000 employees and annual sales of $100 billion in the fiscal year ending December of 2008. [1] Cargill comes in second for privately owned companies. Operations include refining, chemicals, process and pollution control equipment, technologies, fibers and polymers, commodity and financial trading and consumer products. The company operates crude gathering systems and pipelines across North America. One subsidiary processes 800,000 barrels of crude oil daily in its three refineries.
 — SourceWatch

About Boycotts

"The consumer boycott is the only open door in the dark corridor of nothingness down which farm workers have had to walk for many years. It is a gate of hope through which they expect to find the sunlight of a better life for themselves and their families."  Cesar Chavez


My new BFF, Jasiri X, whose last hit, "What If The Teaparty Was Black," was one of my most popular links this year, isn't a household name yet. But I sure want to do my part to help him get there.  So I asked him for reprint permission on the lyrics to this, his latest video, which zeros right in on what these Wisconsin protests are really all about: It's we the people versus the billionaires.  And it's a war we must win. Well done, JX. And as always, thank you for your service.  I hope you all hit that Tweet button below and help me get this one out there too. Thanks.

The Lyrics

Scott Walker works for multi billionaires
John Boehner works for multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Sarah Palin works for multi billionaires
American workers vs multi billionaires
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

Can main street get a bailout
Tell the president our checks weren't mailed out
Tell the house of representatives and senate
And whatever business got the stimulus and spent it
Now they getting record profit that's tripling with no limits
But they cutting jobs and unemployment benefits have ended
How we gone live with no income coming in
And the little help we get is cut from the budget then
What's the role of government
Do workers stand a chance if multi billionaires are running it
Oh now you worried bout the deficit and cutting it
But when them banks needed billions you had enough for them.
Them car companies you had bucks for them
2 wars rebuilding 2 countries guess we stuck with them
the average citizen just ain't lucky then
cause we be getting pimped so I guess we getting fucked again

Rush Limbaugh works for multi billionaires
Bill O'Reilly works for multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Sean Hannity works for multi billionaires
Crazy Glenn Beck works for multi billionaires
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

When did the American worker become the enemy
Why is wanting a living wage such a penalty
What happened to justice and liberty
These billionaire haters wanna crush us literally
On the box is Murdoch and his foxes
And if you watch it you might as well be an ostrich
They terrorists cause they hold facts hostage
24 hours straight of we hate what Barack did
If you want to unionize your a communist
But if you buy a congressman they just call you a lobbyist
It's so obvious but here's where the problem is
they act like regular Americans but they sloppy rich
Why you think they wanna cut taxes
cause every single one of them in the higher brackets
This ain't white or black it's class warfare time for action
Just look at wide the gap is

American workers vs multi billionaires
The middle class vs multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Rupert Murdoch is multi billionaires
the Koch brothers are multi Billionaire
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

Copyright 2011 by Jasiri X (Reprinted by Permission)


When my friend Karoli at Crooks and Liars broke the the Mark Williams story by tweeting his "let's all infiltrate the SEIU, and do to them what they do to us" page, I immediately smelled a stunt and told her that I felt we should ignore it.  Great reporter that she is, she basically agreed, but would still casually denounce it, and  watch it for further developments. 

Why would I say to ignore it? Because disgraced Teaparty blowhards like Williams are always looking to be heros on the right, and they come up with overly ambitious battle plans, or more often, these "punk the left" stunts all the time. While they're rarely very well executed, these ploys capture the narrative for many news cycles, often denying the left its own message traction when it needs some the most. (There are few events in modern times that have so awakened and galvanized the left (and Obama's base)  as the Wisconsin budget crisis. And just in time.)

The relative success of James O'keefe and his ACORN stunt has brought forth a small battalion of these political pranksters and assorted opportunists, most of them incompetent, but all looking for a few minutes of fame, and any power they can squeak out over some Tea Party faction, if they can get it.  To succeed at all, they rely mostly on luck, a very slow news cycle, a sloppy, but sympathetic corporate media, and an irrationally excitable left blogosphere and Twitterville.

Without those ingredients, most of their evil seedlings would sprout like a weed for about 15 seconds, and then whither and die from lack of planning, strategic coherence, or competent execution.  When they do succeed, it's almost always the left giving them far more traction than they deserved. And of course, there are often cranks who do these things on the left, as well. And that fact, as it turns out, was more than relevant to what happened here. But more on this later.

Because as it also turns out, my instincts had nailed this one to a very wall that I suspected from the start.  Today, Williams updated his new post, and gloated that it was a stunt. In typical uppercase stylelessness, he brags that:


Williams had merely taken some lefty flake's website from last year, and changed a few words around.  He figured he could embarrass the left by getting them all worked up and spewing threats and profanity over what he would later reveal to be one of their very own tactics. And lookee here! He had the website printout to prove it!

At the same time, he fantasized, he'd drive all the organizers into a paranoid frenzy of distrust of one another, no doubt relying on the well established and entirely predictable left echo chamber to run wild with the story once he had planted his demon seed. 

While he certainly did make a lot of noise, and rattle a few union people on email lists, it's arguable whether he embarrassed anyone on the left in any operationally meaningful way.  But for his self-promotional purposes, and the sycophantic,  lightweight drones he so often appeals to, it was an overwhelming success.  More than a few channels on Twitter, and around the right-o-sphere are buzzing about Williams as the tri-cornered general he insists he is; an excommunicated Tea Party big dog who has delivered a wealth of new empty rhetoric and talking points to throw around when they need some.  Any time the left brings up misspellings, violence, racism, holocaust references, or a wide number of other common outrages heard on the left about the Tea Parties, the freedom lovin', god fearin', constitooshunalist brothers and their 50 state spin machine will be armed and ready for 'em… you betcha. They will, almost in unison, blither forth with their usual conventional wisdom kibble like, "Oh, c'mon… Everyone knows the left does this stuff all the time. Hell, Mark Williams exposed that one, right?"

So fine, Williams's little ploy was marginally effective. It wasn't very hard—but he knew that it wouldn't be. All he had to do was lure a few noisy blogs with a fair Twitter following into his trap, and he knew they'd lose their shit and go batshit crazy as they so often do. In the 4 hours since Karoli tweeted it (but never blogged it), William's site had 127 retweets. Perhaps other bloggers felt Karoli had just missed the importance, rather than choosing to deliberately underplay it.

All it took was a few dozen well connected retweets using the #seiu and other Wisconsin related twitter hashtags, and Mother Jones, Huffpo, and a few other major league left blogs were all off to the races with the "SEIU being infiltrated by Tea Party" meme.  An hour later, Mark Williams's page had over 1,000 retweets, and he was basking in the warmth of his own flowing semen. He had tossed a little chum in the water, and the link-baiting lefty sharks wolfed the bait and ran with it as one of the big stories of the day. By 9pm, it seemed like everyone but me was convinced it was the biggest story since James O'keefe broke into a phone closet. Ho hum.

The moral of this story for the Left? Stop the knee jerk reactions to predictably contrived set-ups and focus on our own message. Unless we do, we will never have nice things.

Note: I am not faulting anyone for retweeting what they see that they think is important. It's natural to punch the button when our friends pass things along. It's the bloggers and publications prone to link baiting who pass them along initially I have issues with. All too often they run around with their hair on fire without much regard for details or proportionality, nor care to pause long enough to let the facts of a story unfold. They just run with it because its in their interests to run with it.

And for the right? Step on the cockroaches like Williams—swiftly and forcefully. While they may get a lot of high-fives from the primitives who like to dress up in colonial outfits and scream 10th amendment clauses at passing cars, they also come up with really stupid stunts like this one that present a double-edged blade that can cut them to pieces. This stunt has already backfired on the national Tea Party. Why? Because any future "outrage" at progressive events will be easily dismissed as a set-up by one of the Mark Williams-type Poser Brigades. It will be such a common undercurrent of future narratives, it's easy to imagine the Tea Party Federation bosses once again hoping Mr. Williams will be texting while staring at his face in a hand mirror as he steps off a busy curb.

Well done, Mr. Williams. On second thought, don't consider this a morality tale that can be of any use to your contemptible efforts to ruin America for present and future generations.

Just consider it a splendid chance to present foot.