Tag Archives: Koch

Koch brothers influence: eye-on-the-sparrow bludgeoning

Thanks to Charles and his dead brother David, the Kochs are responsible for encouraging the pathology of anti-science. In Florida, where politicians pay lip service to Protecting the Everglades, their front organization Americans for Prosperity has opposed any regulation of the fossil fuel industry. Charles Pierce highlights a recent example:

In 2018, the city of Nashville proposed to build a $5.4 billion rapid-transit project involving high-speed rail. To pay for it, the city proposed to raise four taxes, including the sales tax. Which is about when someone lit up the Koch Signal. The Kochs hate rapid transit. It keeps people from buying cars, which run on the fuels that make the Koch family rich. They also produce the asphalt for the roads on which those cars run. Acting through a Koch-funded astroturfing operation, Americans For Prosperity, the Kochs lavishly funded the opposition and killed the plan. This kind of eye-on-the-sparrow bludgeoning is a measure of how thoroughly the Koch money has infected our politics all the way down to the local level.

Jane Mayer’s Dark Money has chapters devoted to their perfidy. Read it. An excerpt:

The Kochs continued to disperse their money, creating slippery organizations with generic-sounding names, and this made it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington. In 1990, Citizens for a Sound Economy created a spinoff group, Citizens for the Environment, which called acid rain and other environmental problems “myths.” When the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigated the matter, it discovered that the spinoff group had “no citizen membership of its own.”

That’s what the Kochs do or did: ratfuck democracy in the name of plutocrats. I love the idea of ballet and marrying a man whom I’d take to the ballet, but ballet would suck when I have to roll up my pants to wade into the theater.

‘Thank you to your respective bosses’

 

Hands up if you’re surprised that freshly confirmed EPA chief Scott Pruitt had the Koch brothers in essence write his energy policy as attorney general of Oklahoma:

The emails show that his office corresponded with those companies in efforts to weaken federal environmental regulations — the same rules he will now oversee.

“Please find attached a short white paper with some talking points that you might find useful to cut and paste when encouraging States to file comments on the SSM rule,” wrote Roderick Hastie, a lobbyist at Hunton & Williams, a law firm that represents major utilities, including Southern Company, urging Mr. Pruitt’s office to file comments on a proposed E.P.A. rule related to so-called Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction Emissions.

The publication of the correspondence comes just days after Mr. Pruitt was sworn in to run the E.P.A., which is charged with reining in pollution and regulating public health.

[snip]

“Thank you to your respective bosses and all they are doing to push back against President Obama’s EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states,” said one email sent to Mr. Pruitt and an Oklahoma congressman in August 2013 by Matt Ball, an executive at Americans for Prosperity. That nonprofit group is funded in part by the Kochs, the Kansas business executives who spent much of the last decade combating federal regulations, particularly in the energy sector. “You both work for true champions of freedom and liberty!” the note said.

And we have this information only because an Oklahoma judge last week ordered the emails released.

Pay no attention to the Kochs

Reading about the patience with which billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch endured Democratic Congresses and presidents so long as they could fund state legislators and think tanks to promulgate their ideas about eliminating the federal government, I think David Atkins’ analysis of Charles Koch’s complimentary noises about Hillary makes sense:

The great advantage the Koch brothers have over most people in politics is that they really believe in their ideology so deeply that they are willing to hand over the presidency—and its concomitant power to select Supreme Court justices—to their ideological enemies for four years in the service of longer-term goals lasting decades. The Koch brothers do not depend on winning elected office to advance their careers, and they (admirably and rightly, in my view) see politics not as a series of pitched electoral battles to implement various legislative aims, but rather as a grand battle of ideologies in which the entire longitudinal direction of a country is determined. If some Republican careers are damaged in the process, so be it. If some (to them) odious regulations are implemented in the meantime, so be it. They intend to win the war over time, even if it means losing the occasional battle…

…In this case, the Kochs know that even if Trump or Cruz were to win the general election—and even if they therefore had the power to appoint Supreme Court justices!—it would actually be more damaging to their long-term economic libertarian interests than if they were to win. They know that putting Hillary Clinton into office gives them potentially four years to run oppositional politics and ramp up their Hispanic outreach initiative.

Time’s runing out for them. They’re in their late seventies and early eighties. In front of the university library twice a week libertarian students attract a respectable crowd. When I walk past I hear the shibboleths about the free market and self-empowerment; one of the perils of young adulthood is getting suckered by people who honor your social justice commitments while eroding the possibility of redress from your government. Gay marriage, criminal justice reform, and abortion are okay with Koch-minded citizens so long as gays, convicts, and women don’t insist on laws to protect them. Hillary is okay with the Kochs.

The Trump “coalition”

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What a surprise:

Together these patterns suggest that Trump has built his coalition primarily from voters within the heart of the Republican electorate—a dynamic that could make it more difficult for the party leaders to deny him the nomination if he finishes the primaries with the most delegates, but less than an absolute majority. It also suggests that his rise could signal a lasting shift in the party’s balance of power toward the anti-establishment, heavily blue-collar voters who have provided the core of his support…

…“It is a part of the coalition that has always been there,” adds Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political scientist. “It’s just that he’s capitalizing on this anti-establishment anger within the party, that’s been directed toward the Democrats and President Obama, now he’s directing it inward. And the key issues he talks about, the nativist appeal that he has, is broadly popular among Republican voters.”

Because Beltway reporters love nothing so much as a tight election, they like to drool about independents, a voting bloc with which they were obsessed when the Tea Party sprung as if it were genuinely grass roots in 2009-2010. According to Ron Brownstein’s research, Trump voters are no different from other Republicans: Trump voters are traditional Republicans (italics mine) who may have stayed home the last couple of presidential election cycles. Remember when John McCain was asked if Senator Barack Obama was an “Arab”? Imagine thousands of people sharing this blinkered view.

November surprises

Morning-Joe-Koch

I suppose like the Edward Snowden revelations published by The Guardian and New York Times that the Beltway types will mutter, “Whatever — we knew this was happening.” But POLITICO’s news today regarding the Koch brothers pouring hundreds of millions into private intel should spook anyone not Anthony Kennedy:

The competitive intelligence team has a staff of 25, including one former CIA analyst, and operates from one of the non-descript Koch network offices clustered near the Courthouse metro stop in suburban Arlington, Va. It has provided network officials with documents detailing confidential voter-mobilization plans by major Democrat-aligned groups. It also sends regular “intelligence briefing” emails tracking the canvassing, phone-banking and voter-registration efforts of labor unions, environmental groups and their allies, according to documents reviewed by POLITICO and interviews with a half-dozen sources with knowledge of the group.

The competitive intelligence team has gathered on-the-ground intelligence from liberal groups’ canvassing events in an effort to assess the technology and techniques of field efforts to boost Democrats, according to the sources. And they say the team utilizes high-tech tactics to track the movements of liberal organizers, including culling geo-data embedded in their social media posts.

So dizzying was Barack Hussein Obama’s reelection that the Kochs have tried to stop what is to them the mother of all October Surprises.

The briefing notes that in Arkansas, where there was a hotly contested Senate race between Koch network favorite Tom Cotton and Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, Democrats were holding a statewide get-out-the-vote training in Little Rock, as well as a college organizing conference, while an immigrant rights group was “phone banking regularly with the intent of registering voters.” But the briefing also contains big-picture analysis flagging that union-affiliate Working America “has 400 paid canvassers knocking on 5,000 doors daily across 13 states through Election Day, especially focusing on Senate races in AK, IA, KY, MI, and NC. NRSC Vice Chair for Finance Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said the NRSC isn’t planning to devote any more significant resources to shore up key candidates in the red states of Kansas, Kentucky and Georgia.”

None of this sounds illegal, and, again, thanks to the Citizens United ruling organizations unaffiliated officially with campaigns can raise millions and pour them into resources like this. The problem is the resources. Spend time on litigation and it doesn’t matter, for the Kochs have enough dough to pay the legal fees and spend on local candidates, where free market twaddle exerts a fiendish pull. I don’t doubt this story doesn’t report on a quarter of what these shadow groups do that POLITICO, beloved rag of the Beltway elite, won’t or cant substantiate. Be warned, though: where it took a Richard Milhouse Nixon to expose what the Committee to Re-Elect the President was up to with those bundles of cash, I don’t envisage a similar Damascus moment. Both Sides Do It is the game.