Excellent Read: “Rebranding the Koch Brothers”

I’ve got a copy of Dark Money on order, but meanwhile, Mayer’s article in the January 25th issue of the New Yorker is well worth reading, even if you have to go find a print copy:

On the night of November 2nd, well-dressed Wichita residents formed a line that snaked through the lobby of the city’s convention center. They all held tickets to the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual gala, which had drawn thirty-five hundred people. The evening’s featured speaker, Charles Koch, had lived in town almost all of his eighty years, but few locals—even prominent ones—had ever laid eyes on him. Charles, along with his brother David, owns virtually all of the energy-and-chemical conglomerate Koch Industries, which is based in Wichita and has annual revenues of a hundred and fifteen billion dollars. Charles’s secretive manner, right-wing views, and concerted campaign to exert political influence by spending his fortune have made him an object of fascination, especially in his home town. “You never see him,” one local newsman whispered. “He hates publicity.” He paused. “Please don’t quote me on that!”…

Charles shared the stage with Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, the co-hosts of the MSNBC cable show “Morning Joe,” whom Koch Industries had chosen to serve as moderators. The audience laughed as Koch recalled such boyhood misadventures as his expulsion from military school. He amiably described early business mistakes, and he pointedly criticized Republicans as well as Democrats…

Starting in 2010, a controversial series of rulings by the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court essentially licensed unlimited political spending by corporations, unions, and individuals. Charles and David—a seventy-five-year-old patron of the arts, who is the wealthiest resident of Manhattan—were unusually prepared to take advantage of this shift. They had set up a broad alliance of donors and advocacy organizations to support conservative candidates who share their “pro-business” opposition to regulation, entitlements, and taxes. This network has since become one of the most powerful political forces in the country: a libertarian advocacy group backed by the brothers, Americans for Prosperity, has directors in thirty-four states. According to Politico, twelve hundred people work full-time for the Koch network—more than three times the number of people who work for the Republican National Committee.

A new, data-filled study by the Harvard scholars Theda Skocpol and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez reports that the Kochs have established centralized command of a “nationally-federated, full-service, ideologically focused” machine that “operates on the scale of a national U.S. political party.” The Koch network, they conclude, acts like a “force field,” pulling Republican candidates and office-holders further to the right. Last week, the Times reported that funds from the Koch network are fuelling both ongoing rebellions against government control of Western land and the legal challenge to labor unions that is before the Supreme Court…

***********
The Kochs’ strategy began to change after the last Presidential election. Having spent so much money trying to defeat Obama, they were stunned when he was reëlected. As late as Election Day, their political advisers were assuring them that Mitt Romney had secured the Presidency. The 2012 defeat led the Kochs and their advisers into an intense period of review. Most of the postmortem took place in private, but in March, 2013, a clue to the Kochs’ line of thinking was offered by Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute. In a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Brooks, who frequently attends the Kochs’ political retreats, offered a diagnosis of what had gone wrong in 2012.

Brooks told the audience that a single statistic explained why conservatives had lost. In polls, he said, only a third of respondents agreed that Republicans “cared about people like” them. And fewer than half of Americans believed that Republicans cared about the poor. Conservatives had an empathy problem. This was important, Brooks explained, because Americans almost universally believed that “fairness matters.” He went on, “I know it makes you sick to think of that word, ‘fairness.’ ” But Americans, he said, overwhelmingly believed that “it’s right to help the vulnerable.”…

Conservatives didn’t have a policy problem, Brooks assured the audience: free-market economics still offered the best solutions for America. Republicans just needed different packaging for their message. “In other words, if you want to be seen as a moral, compassionate person, talk about fairness and helping the vulnerable,” Brooks said. “You want to win? Start fighting for people! . . . Lead with vulnerable people. Lead with fairness!” He added, “Telling stories matters. By telling stories, we can soften people.”…

The planning for the Kochs’ political makeover took place in private, but in June, 2014, a leak from one of their twice-yearly donor summits provided a glimpse of their thinking. Lauren Windsor, a liberal blogger who hosts an online news program called “The Undercurrent,” obtained audio recordings of the secret gathering, which was held at a resort near Laguna Beach, California. Soon afterward, she began posting them.

In one session, entitled “The Long-Term Strategy: Engaging the Middle Third,” Richard Fink, who was introduced to the donors as the Kochs’ ”grand strategist,” offered a summary of the new plan. Fink, who has a Ph.D. in economics from New York University, has been the Kochs’ closest political adviser since the eighties. He was an executive vice-president and a director on the board of Koch Industries, and also a board member of Americans for Prosperity. After the losses of 2012, Fink explained, he had surveyed twenty years of research into the political opinions of moderates, including a hundred and seventy thousand surveys conducted in the United States and abroad. His conclusion, he told the donors, was that if conservatives wanted to win over Americans they needed to change their pitch.

In a ballroom overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Fink began, “We got our clocks cleaned in 2012.” The demographic challenge, he said, was formidable. The United States was essentially divided into three parts. The Kochs, he said, had already “been very successful in mobilizing” the first third, which comprised conservatives and libertarians who shared their political vision. Another third, he said, would never support them: these were “the collectivists.” (In the nineteen-fifties and sixties, the John Birch Society used this term to conflate liberals and Communists.) Fink continued, “The battle for the future of the country is who can win the hearts and minds of that middle third. . . . Whoever can mobilize a majority of that thirty per cent will determine the direction of the country.”…

Fink, thinking that he was only among friends, confided that the critics weren’t entirely wrong. “What do people like you say? I grew up with pretty much very little, O.K.? And I worked my butt off to get what I have.” When he saw impoverished people “on the street,” he admitted, his gut reaction was: “Get off your ass and work hard, like we did!”

Unfortunately, he continued, voters in the middle third had a different reaction when they saw the poor. They felt “guilty about it.” Rather than just being concerned with expanding “opportunity” for themselves, he said, this group was also concerned with expanding “opportunity for other people.” For these voters, the government-slashing agenda of the Kochs was a stumbling block. Fink acknowledged, “We want to decrease regulations. Why? It’s because we can make more profit, O.K.? Yeah, and cut government spending so we don’t have to pay so much taxes. There’s truth in that.” But to the “middle third” these positions seemed motivated not by ideological principle but by greed.,,

But Fink had a solution. “This is going to sound a little strange,” he acknowledged. “So you’ll have to bear with me.” The Koch network, he said, needed to present its free-market ideology as an apolitical and altruistic reform movement to enhance the quality of life—as “a movement for well-being.” The network should make the case that free markets forged a path to happiness, whereas big government led to tyranny, Fascism, and even Nazism. Arguing that an increase in the minimum wage would cause higher unemployment, Fink told his audience that unemployment in Germany during the nineteen-twenties had led to the rise “of the Third Reich.”…

Politico, on Thursday:

America Rising PAC, the GOP opposition network founded by Matt Rhoades and Joe Pounder, has set its sights on Jane Mayer, shopping around accusations that she has ideological bias…

In the book, Mayer explores the Kochs’ history including that Charles and David Koch’s father, Fred, helped construct a major oil refinery in Nazi Germany that was personally approved by Adolf Hitler. Koch Industries has not denied the fact but has said that within context the refinery was years before Germany invaded Poland and that many U.S. companies were working in Germany during the period and that “when it became clear that Hitler’s government was a tyrannical regime, Mr. Koch ceased doing business there.”…

“This book was written by Jane Mayer, a biased author with connections to Clinton-world who not surprisingly makes countless disingenuous attacks against conservatives. It’s important the public views Mayer’s book for what it really is: a liberal hatchet job to advance a partisan agenda,” America Rising PAC spokesperson Amelia Chassé said…






137 replies
  1. 1
    Botsplainer says:

    Where are our modern Charlotte Cordays that can deal with the Kochs, the Adelsons, the Limbaughs?

    I really lament that the Weathermen were so ineffective that guys like the Kochs don’t have to hire food tasters or have to sweep their limos for explosives…

  2. 2
    Corner Stone says:

    It takes a lot of guts to do what Mayer has done/is doing. Too bad the only people who read it will have already been aware of what a threat the Koch brothers are to America.

  3. 3
    Big Ol Hound says:

    It’s amazing just how much time and money has been spent by this family to buy a president of there liking so the right judges can be appointed to SCOTUS. Any court ruling that enables them to make more money is the goal. The rest is just window dressing.

  4. 4
    MattF says:

    Sometimes a hatchet is the weapon of choice.

  5. 5
    Germy says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Too bad the only people who read it will have already been aware of what a threat the Koch brothers are to America.

    Somehow, I doubt she’ll get the network TV attention that a writer with an RW agenda would enjoy. If she wrote an anti-HRC or Sanders book, she’d be all over the talk shows.

  6. 6
    Corner Stone says:

    I wondered why this part was added, and thought it amusing, “David—a seventy-five-year-old patron of the arts, who is the wealthiest resident of Manhattan”
    Dude’s worth about $40B+. Isn’t he going to be the wealthiest resident of damn near anywhere except like three places?

  7. 7
    debbie says:

    Mayer’s Fresh Air interview last week was very good.

  8. 8
    Germy says:

    Will the NYTIMES be running excerpts, and essays based on what she’s uncovered? Will it be on the evening news? Again, unlikely.

  9. 9
    Corner Stone says:

    I also find it amusing that time and time again when conservatives lose an election they do these deep dives into what went wrong. And consistently find that it’s not *what* they are selling that’s the problem but rather *how* they are trying to sell it.
    “We still want to gut the commons for our private profit and make you fear for the meager paycheck we allow you to earn. But we like ice cream and baseball, too, so we’re all in this together!”

  10. 10
    Hillary Rettig says:

    Agree, Mayer is a real hero.

  11. 11
    Germy says:

    Conservatives had an empathy problem. This was important, Brooks explained, because Americans almost universally believed that “fairness matters.” He went on, “I know it makes you sick to think of that word, ‘fairness.’ ”

    [shudder]

  12. 12
    oldgold says:

    What is it about energy and politics? Damn near everyone who has made a dime in energy adopts the most extreme right wing political opinions. Has the energy business produced one liberal? One moderate?

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    The Kochs’ strategy began to change after the last Presidential election. Having spent so much money trying to defeat Obama, they were stunned when he was reëlected.

    The umlaut is pretentious. Otherwise, :-D

  14. 14
    Harold Samson says:

    @Big Ol Hound:

    It’s not just about money. It’s about telling people how to live, how to behave.

    It’s about feeling like a king.

  15. 15
    Germy says:

    @oldgold: Folks who made their fortunes in oil and coal frequently found themselves challenged by environmentalists and pesky regulations. It pisses them off. “You’re trying to interfere with my wealth-building!!”

  16. 16
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Baud: That’s the New Yorker for you.

  17. 17
    Robin G. says:

    I can’t tell if it speaks to Americans’ humanity or apathy that we haven’t set up the guillotine yet.

  18. 18
    Corner Stone says:

    @oldgold:

    What is it about energy and politics? Damn near everyone who has made a dime in energy adopts the most extreme right wing political opinions.

    Any extraction based industry relies on exploiting the community they are in, and the larger society as a whole when that product is delivered for consumption. The difference between profit and wealth lies in how much overhead the associated regulations eat up. Less regulations mean more profit stays in the hands of the wealthy, who then buy more politicians so they can have less regulation, or absent that, less enforcement/fines for exitisng regulations.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    Botsplainer says:

    @Corner Stone:

    “We still want to gut the commons for our private profit and make you fear for the meager paycheck we allow you to earn. But we like ice cream and baseball, too, so we’re all in this together!”

    “And we fund arts we like and cancer centers because of our own cancer scares and endow professorships which teach our economic and political beliefs, so we’re charitable and that proves we care about you!”

  21. 21
    Baud says:

    Trump and Cruz exude “fairness.”. Way to go, Kochs!

  22. 22
    Germy says:

    @Botsplainer: The Kochs are all over PBS.

  23. 23
    Baud says:

    @Robin G.:

    Inability of liberals to agree in what color the guillotine should be painted.

  24. 24
    Botsplainer says:

    @Robin G.:

    That’s the purpose of conservative-generated racial grievance for whites in the middle and lower classes.

  25. 25
    Germy says:

    I remember a recent TV interview with one of the Koch brothers. They filmed him in his “lodge” (all wood paneling, antlers on the walls, a big cozy fireplace in the background) and he wore a sweater. It was all so obviously staged to look warm and comforting (good grandpa!) that it reminded me of Woody Allen’s film “Sleeper” and the Great Leader, or whatever he was called.

  26. 26
    Mai.naem.mobile says:

    Jane Mayer is an awesome reporter. I believe she.cowrote the book about Clarence Thomas’ fvcked up confirmation and how screwed Anita Hill was. I listened to Mayers interview on Fresh Air on monday. Scary. Makes America sound like we are on our way to an oligarchic with a banana republic leadership . Depressing.

  27. 27
    Botsplainer says:

    @Germy:

    They like them some classy TV, and it mitigates criticism from the totebagger set.

    I’d love it if some fellow high society, prominent invitee to the sort of event I’d never be invited to attend spit in a Koch face.

  28. 28
    Botsplainer says:

    @Mai.naem.mobile:

    Countries with big populations can make that slide. It’ll look like Argentina or Brazil in the 80s.

  29. 29
    amk says:

    Didn’t kochs lose their bet badly in 2012? And their totally charmless puppet in 2016 before even one vote is cast?

  30. 30
    BGinCHI says:

    The Kochs are 75 and 80, yes?

    The only good news here is their short stay on the planet. Do they have offspring? Are their kids as bad as the Waltons?

    (Wal-Mart Waltons, not John Boy and Mary Ellen…)

  31. 31
    Germy says:

    The planning for the Kochs’ political makeover took place in private, but in June, 2014, a leak from one of their twice-yearly donor summits provided a glimpse of their thinking. Lauren Windsor, a liberal blogger who hosts an online news program called “The Undercurrent,” obtained audio recordings of the secret gathering, which was held at a resort near Laguna Beach, California. Soon afterward, she began posting them.

    Kudos to the courageous person who got that recording out.

  32. 32
    Botsplainer says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Never heard about Koch offspring. Randolph and Mortimer may have been too odious to mate.

  33. 33

    @Big Ol Hound:

    The rest is just window dressing.

    I strongly disagree. Note the reference to “it’s right to help the vulnerable.” and ‘collectivists’. The Kochs paid for the Tea Party, whose representatives have tried to blow up the economy against the express wishes of the Chamber of Commerce. They hate helping people as a moral principle, and think it’s weird anyone would want to. They are paranoid, mean-spirited nutcases. Yes, they’re greedy, but that really is secondary to ideology. They want to dismantle the government way, way beyond just the regulations and taxes that affect them.

  34. 34
    A Ghost To Most says:

    There isn’t enough lipstick in the world for those pigs. There are enough lampposts.

  35. 35
    Steeplejack says:

    @Baud:

    The umlaut is pretentious.

    You just lost the crucial pedant vote, smart-ass.

  36. 36
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Germy: She got plenty of attention for The Dark Side. Well worth reading if you haven’t already. She’s one of my heroes.

  37. 37
    Felonius Monk says:

    Georgia_Pacific is just one Koch subsiduary:

    Georgia-Pacific is a paper and pulp company that produces “Brawny” paper towels, “Angel Soft” toilet paper, “Mardi Gras” napkins and towels, “Quilted Northern” toilet paper and paper towels, “Dixie” paper plates, bowls, napkins and cups, “Sparkle” paper towels, and “Vanity Fair” paper napkins, bowls, plates and tablecloths. The Atlanta-based company has operations in 27 states.

    If only we could stop buying their products.

  38. 38
    BGinCHI says:

    @Botsplainer: It was the Dukes It was the Dukes…..

    If neither has kids that’s kind of creepy.

    If she wins, HRC should set the estate tax back at 98% or something.

  39. 39
    Baud says:

    @Steeplejack:

    I will NOT triangulate when it comes to diacritical marks in American English.

    Won’t someone think of standard U.S. physical keyboards?

  40. 40
    satby says:

    @Botsplainer: both Charles and David, as well as brother Bill, have children.

  41. 41
    Germy says:

    @satby: Also, Charles and David both look about ten to fifteen years younger than their age.

  42. 42
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Germy:
    Vampires have to stay out of the sun.

  43. 43
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @BGinCHI:
    @Botsplainer:

    Charles has two, and David has three. Given their ages, I would imagine there are grandchildren as well.

    I downloaded Dark Money to my Kindle app on the strength of that Fresh Air interview the other day. Am about a third of the way through (I tend to read several books at once). Also bought the current New Yorker that AL referenced, but so far I haven’t done anything but look at the cartoons :-)

  44. 44
    Germy says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Even the New Yorker editor admitted that most people look at the cartoons before reading anything else.

  45. 45
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Charles has 2 children, a son and a daughter, and David has 3 sons.

  46. 46
    bystander says:

    @Baud:

    Umlaut is used in German to indicate a change in the sound of a vowel. In English, a diaeresis Is used to indicate syllabification between two vowels.

    My favorite Koch bro is the gay one. He has an entire UES townhouse he’s decorated evidently in anticipation of the resurrection of Marie Antoinette. He doesn’t live there. It’s just sort of a real life dollhouse for him to play with.

  47. 47
    Germy says:

    Often on liberal blogs I see comments from folks hopeful that once the older generation of assholes dies out, racism will end. I’m not so optimistic.

    I don’t know much about the Koch offspring, if they are as odious as their fathers. I assume they share the same values.

  48. 48
    SFAW says:

    @Germy:

    the Great Leader, or whatever he was called

    Supreme Leader Snkoch? (The “K” is silent.)

    But who is ChuckNDave’s Kylo Ren? Scotty Walker? Rafael Pendejo Cruz?

  49. 49
    Germy says:

    @SFAW: Scott Walker.

  50. 50
    SFAW says:

    @Germy:

    “Most” people? Not “all”?

  51. 51
    Germy says:

    @SFAW: Some look at the NightLife section to see who is playing where.

  52. 52
    Germy says:

    @SFAW: The only time Shouts And Murmurs makes me laugh is when Jack Handey writes something.

  53. 53
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Baud:
    Umlaute are a notorious affectation at The New Yorker, and a signature part of its generally high-faluting house style. The magazine could very easily put a hyphen between the e at the end of the first syllable in “re-elected” and the e at the start of the second syllable. Or it could recognise that its readers are literate enough not to read “reelected” as “reel ected”, and just print the word in the standard way. So I’m with you.

  54. 54
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Baud: I guess money really can’t buy you love.

    One thing I wish someone smarter than me would figure out is what ROI the right is getting for all its attempts to buy our govt. Yeah, we’ve got an oligarchy, so they’ve won the big prize–for now. But we’ve also got Obamacare, and no Keystone, and are also winning the culture war.

    btw, didn’t we have a book club around here a while back? Mayer’s book would be a good candidate for one.

  55. 55
    Germy says:

    @Amir Khalid: They’re also comma crazy. In a recent piece about the Beatles, they referred to “Hey, Jude”

  56. 56
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Baud:

    I will NOT triangulate when it comes to diacritical marks in American English.

    Are you opposed to all triangulation or just triangulation in specific cases?

    Will we be able to campaign for Baud the anti-triangulator?

  57. 57
    SenyorDave says:

    I have to keep reminding myself that the Koch brothers are actual human beings. I like to think that if I had $50 billion I would use my wealth and power to help people. The Koch’s only goal in life appears to be he acquisition of more wealth and power. How pathetic.

  58. 58
    Elizabelle says:

    Thank you for the lengthy excerpt. New Yorker paywall did me in; bookmarked for pulling down next month.

    This seems to be an article they should make freely available, as a public service and reminder of good journalism.

    “You never see him [Charles Koch],” one local newsman whispered. “He hates publicity.”

    Like cockroaches. More sunlight, please.

  59. 59
    Elizabelle says:

    I wonder if people will get Mayer’s books confused. The Dark Side, and now Dark Money.

  60. 60
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Steeplejack: >You just lost the crucial pedant vote, smart-ass.

    if there weren’t already four hundred seventy billion zillion categories on this site, I would nominate this for another one!

  61. 61
    Germy says:

    @Hillary Rettig: There are very few local governments they haven’t influenced. Every place I’ve ever lived (and I’ve moved quite a bit in thirty years) had town government either controlled or heavily influenced by RW interests. But they want their white house back.

  62. 62
    rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

  63. 63
    Elizabelle says:

    @Germy: I know. Commas are getting, out of, control. The WaPost is an offender.

  64. 64
    Elizabelle says:

    @Hillary Rettig: Second re Dark Money for a book club.

    Now, gotta scoot. That basement ain’t gonna clean itself. Unfortunately.

  65. 65
    SFAW says:

    @Germy:

    Nah, Kylo Ren was significantly more competent, and presumably smarter, than Li’l Scotty. Although not significantly more evil, I’ll give you that.

  66. 66
    Germy says:

    @Elizabelle: When they use too many commas, if I read an article out loud to my wife (or cat) I sound like William Shatner.

  67. 67
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Germy:
    Tsk, tsk. A song title is a proper name. You don’t mess with proper names, not even to fix “mistakes”.

    @Amir Khalid: Ye gods, Amir! That’s a diaeresis, not an umlaut!

  68. 68
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Germy: Le sigh. I know they’re young and therefore have a license for assholelery, but this crosses a line. I know they’re getting off with a wrist slap – single day suspension – but I hope every time someone googles them for at least a few years this picture comes up.

  69. 69
    Germy says:

    SNL had a great segment last night on Awards Shows ignoring black actors.

    For example, a white guy who wanders accidentally onto the set in a “black film” gets nominated.

  70. 70

    Arthur Brooks is like David Brooks evil twin. As if DB was not enough, the supposedly liberal NYT has AB as an op-ed contributor too.

    ETA: Why does the back button still not work?

  71. 71

    @Germy: Every generation has its quota of stupid and evil.

  72. 72
    rikyrah says:

    thanks for the excerpt.
    no shocks in the least.

  73. 73
    Germy says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: The back button just worked for me.

    This generation has snapchat and twitter.

  74. 74
    Baud says:

    @Felonius Monk: They don’t call me Baud the Square for nothing.

  75. 75
    Snarkworth says:

    @Steeplejack:

    You just lost the crucial pedant vote, smart-ass.

    That’s smartäss to you.

  76. 76
    SFAW says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Ye gods, Amir! That’s a diaeresis, not an umlaut!

    Kaopectate might help with that.

  77. 77

    @Baud: Sponge Baud Square Pants?

  78. 78
    BGinCHI says:

    @Germy: I’m hopeful like that, but it does not extend to suburban Phoenix.

  79. 79
    debbie says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Too much heart, not enough brains.

  80. 80

    @Hillary Rettig:

    I wish someone smarter than me would figure out is what ROI the right is getting

    I suspect the Kochs are getting a significant negative ROI. When you dump a billion dollars of your own money into an election, it’s hard to get any result that pays that back – monetarily. Personal satisfaction, spite, ego, and Fighting The Good Fight against the evil liberals is worth more than gold, especially if you can afford to dump a billion and not affect your standard of living.

  81. 81
    Baud says:

    @Hillary Rettig:
    @Frankensteinbeck:

    They are more successful in state and local elections. Whether they get an adequate ROI, I don’t know.

  82. 82
  83. 83
    Kay says:

    Charles shared the stage with Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, the co-hosts of the MSNBC cable show “Morning Joe,” whom Koch Industries had chosen to serve as moderators.

    This is an under-explored aspect of the campaign industrial complex. At minimum we need to know who is paying the “guests” on shows like Morning Joe. I know you’re all going to tell me they have a small audience but it isn’t numbers that matter- it’s whether political leaders watch.

    No one should appear on any cable channel without a crawl identifying who pays their salary. Every time we see a former pol or campaign operative pushing something we need to know who pays them.

  84. 84
    Ked says:

    I know this is the wrong place for site comments, but please, PLEASE do something about the reload problem. Every thirty seconds or so, something in the BJ site reloads for no apparent reason. This fills up the history, making the back button absolutely useless, and also makes me twitch.

    I’m using current Firefox on Windows 7.

  85. 85
    Baud says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Ye gods, Amir! That’s a diaeresis, not an umlaut!

    Is that like the difference between an apostrophe and a single close quotation mark?

  86. 86
    Elizabelle says:

    @Germy: Truly. With or without bongo drums.

  87. 87

    OT: I made a chicken curry in the oven yesterday. Husband kitteh says that it was delicious enough to stray any vegetarian from his path.

    ETA: Husband kitteh was born a vegetarian.

  88. 88
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    And highfaluting is not really a word, except in the lower reaches of the Internet. It’s highfalutin.

  89. 89
    Mike in NC says:

    Speaker Paul Ryan is a 100% bought and paid for servant of the Koch family. They assigned him to be Mitt’s running mate and still have hopes of slipping him into the Oval Office some day soon.

  90. 90
    Elizabelle says:

    @Kay: True that.

    And NBC is awful. MSNBC is just an attempt at diverting what the corporate parent is really like.

    First morning broadcast after the December Democratic debate, and Matt Lauer opened asking “Does Hillary Clinton owe Donald Trump an apology?” in disapproving voice.

    Fuck ’em. I am happily unaware of anything else they’re broadcasting. (Cut the cable cord this month; no TV and it’s been good, except for not seeing the SOTU — which I listened to.)

  91. 91
    SFAW says:

    @Baud:

    Is that like the difference between an apostrophe and a single close quotation mark?

    Sucking up to Pedant Americans is not the key to Victory, no matter how hard you try to get back in they’re good graces.

  92. 92
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SFAW:

    they’re

    Well played.

  93. 93
  94. 94
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Baud:
    Umlaute and diaereses are related in origin, but do different things. An umlaut alters the sound of a single vowel, or of a diphthong. A diaeresis over a vowel indicates it is pronounced in isolation from any adjacent letter that usually affects its sound.

  95. 95
    Elizabelle says:

    I’d like to see this become the Kochs’ “Rush Limbaugh went too far, insulting Sandra Fluke” moment.

    It could happen.

  96. 96

    @Germy:
    Part of the problem is that we can’t even agree on what fairness means. Conservatives are worried about people gaming the system to get more than they deserve, since they see that as unfair, while liberals are worried about people being cheated by the system and getting less than they deserve. Meanwhile, assholes like the Kochs see “fairness” as an excuse for ignoring the will of the all holy market and thus the deepest form of blasphemy in The Church of Mammon.

  97. 97
    WaterGirl says:

    @Germy: Back button is still not working correctly, though. If you click on @someone’s name and then hit back, it takes you back to the comment you were on. In other cases, it’s still not working.

  98. 98
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Elizabelle:
    What might Hilary owe the Donald an apology for?

  99. 99
    Cain says:

    Democrats need to put the fairness doctrine back. Kneecap the messaging on talk radio. Of course, we have Little Debbie on our side so we can’t lose right? She has her awesome political acumen to bear on the situation!

  100. 100
    Amir Khalid says:

    @SFAW:
    I may be a pedant, but I’m no American.

  101. 101

    @Amir Khalid: You are a citizen of Tunchland and that’s all that matters.

  102. 102
    WaterGirl says:

    @Kay: Absolutely right, all of what you said!

  103. 103
    debbie says:

    @Kay:

    Every time we see a former pol or campaign operative pushing something we need to know who pays them.

    Don’t their words make that obvious?

  104. 104
    WaterGirl says:

    @Amir Khalid: Breathing?

  105. 105
    WereBear says:

    @Felonius Monk: In this house, we did stop buying those products.

    Hard to do construction without them?

  106. 106
    SFAW says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Yes, I know, but Baud (that damn Frenchy) was talking past you, so to speak, while asking you for guidance – aiming to assuage the (presumably) offended Pedants. Kind of like a dog whistle.

  107. 107
    Harold Samson says:

    What a curious moderation system here. Almost a disincentive.

  108. 108
    SFAW says:

    @WereBear:

    Hard to do construction without them?

    Yeah, G-P is all over the place.

  109. 109
    GregB says:

    To think how many right wingers I have heard tsk-tsking about old man Kennedy getting his money from rum running.

    It looks like half of the conservative elite made their money from Nazi Germany.

  110. 110
    Elizabelle says:

    @Amir Khalid: Hillary apparently said (in the stealth week before Christmas debate) that Donald Trump was the best recruiter ISIS had.

    NBC took her at her literal word, and could not find evidence this was true. So Hillary is a liar. Matt Lauer was so indignant.

    (Such evidence did come out a week or two later. ISIS is not unaware of the Donald.)

    I noticed NBC was broadcasting Trump stuff constantly. They don’t have to pay him for his show any more, but they’re still using him to make money. Or at least they were, when I last watched, a few weeks ago.

    NBC and the Today show have sunk so low. I honestly think that Brian Williams was dealt with so harshly because he inadvertently exposed the truth. If you want to tell the truth, you do it as a late night comic. Stewart and Colbert were better respected than the once mighty network news divisions.

    NBC was all huffy, but they’ve been pablum and crap for years.

  111. 111
    Germy says:

    @Elizabelle:

    NBC and the Today show have sunk so low.

    I also cannot stomach “Good Morning America” with their resident college republican mole Jon Karl.

  112. 112
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Amir Khalid: At this point, The New Yorker is doing this stuff because nobody else does it. It means that you can read a New Yorker article and tell it’s a New Yorker article just from the appearance of the text.

  113. 113
    Elizabelle says:

    @Germy: Jonathan Karl Rove. Gag.

    Finished lunch. Back to the basement cleaning, alas. Le sigh. Have a good one.

  114. 114
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Elizabelle:
    Oh, that ISIS thing. It turned out that Hillary was right, so why should she apologise? Now the Donald’s claim that he could shoot a person in the street and not lose popular support, what that shows is a lack of common decency. He ought to apologise for that.

  115. 115
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Baud:

    I will virgule you.

  116. 116
    Chris says:

    A new, data-filled study by the Harvard scholars Theda Skocpol and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez reports that the Kochs have established centralized command of a “nationally-federated, full-service, ideologically focused” machine that “operates on the scale of a national U.S. political party.”

    Yep. This is what I’ve always thought modern movement conservatism was; Tammany Hall on a nationwide scale (of course, Tammany Hall let its people have a lot more).

  117. 117
    Chris says:

    @Germy:

    Conservatives had an empathy problem. This was important, Brooks explained, because Americans almost universally believed that “fairness matters.” He went on, “I know it makes you sick to think of that word, ‘fairness.’ ”

    [shudder]

    Yeah. I hate to moralize, but it really does make me sick to my stomach that these people can not only believe and act on that, but say it out loud in public and be safe in the knowledge that they won’t pay a price for it.

  118. 118
    Chris says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    The Kochs paid for the Tea Party, whose representatives have tried to blow up the economy against the express wishes of the Chamber of Commerce. They hate helping people as a moral principle, and think it’s weird anyone would want to. They are paranoid, mean-spirited nutcases. Yes, they’re greedy, but that really is secondary to ideology. They want to dismantle the government way, way beyond just the regulations and taxes that affect them.

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    I suspect the Kochs are getting a significant negative ROI. When you dump a billion dollars of your own money into an election, it’s hard to get any result that pays that back – monetarily. Personal satisfaction, spite, ego, and Fighting The Good Fight against the evil liberals is worth more than gold, especially if you can afford to dump a billion and not affect your standard of living.

    This and this.

    1) I think, as I’ve noted before, that once you’re past a certain level of wealth, wealth becomes an abstraction – there are very few things left that you can’t buy – and your life becomes more about the intangibles, the things that can’t be measured in wealth. It’s not enough to own the country. They want the peons to respect and revere them for their awesomeness, and they want the ones that’re looking at them funny, or even that they just think are looking at them funny, to suffer. Tearing up the safety net, the unions, the regulatory agencies, all the things the peons can depend on to not be totally at their mercy, enables them to have that kind of power over the rest of us. To make sure those who appreciate them are rewarded as they deserve, and those who don’t are rewarded as they deserve.

    2) This is me speculating, I don’t insist that it’s true – but I’ve also had a private theory for some time that the Kochs, and other right wing zillionaire families of their ilk, view the New Deal as basically the most gigantic heist in history, when FDR and his mobs put a gun to the rich’s head and stole all their money. And so, when they look at the middle class society that the 20th century built, they don’t see a healthy country, they see a society of gangsters living high off of money they stole from others. And so they want to strip them of their ill-gotten gains and restore them to their rightful owners.

    Papa Koch made his fortune in the early 20th century, just when modern liberalism was on the rise. Like I said, I don’t insist that they’ve thought it through to that extent, but I’m certain his two children grew up intoxicated with tales of the Old America, when freedom rang from every hilltop and a man had only what he could earn, before the dark times when the socialists took over and stole everything.

  119. 119
    SFAW says:

    @Chris:
    Similar to your points: power has always been, and will continue to be, what they’re after. (“They” not being limited to the Kochs by any stretch.) Power, not money, is the primary driver. In some ways, it’s almost circular: they want more money so that they can gain more power, and they want to use that power to get more money – except it’s not only money that they want.

    Re: your point about the New Deal: there’s been a right-wing meme called something like “the Constitution in Exile” which has been around for a number of years. The Constitution in Exile relates (I believe) almost exclusively to the post-New Deal environment/government. Eliminating the benefits gained from the New Deal has been a goal since before I was born, I imagine. And I’m reasonably confident that the whole mindset is not going away any time soon.

    I would consider suggesting that, instead of debtors’ prisons, we need oligarchs’ prisons, which might help sober up some of those evil bastards. But I figure winning Powerball is more likely than getting that.

  120. 120
    Rafer Janders says:

    Ok, here’s how I know this whole book is bullshit:

    On the night of November 2nd, well-dressed Wichita residents….

    Well-dressed Wichita residents? NO. SUCH. THING.

  121. 121
    Mr. Twister says:

    @Elizabelle: Don’t forget NBC pays to fly Matt Lauer to and from “work” via helicopter each and everyday so he can spend more time with his horses on Long Island.

  122. 122
    Ruckus says:

    @Chris:
    The rich don’t like the rest of us getting even little bits of what they consider to be their money. They stole it fair and square, why should they share any of it with anyone else.
    And yes, money=power, because you can buy people with money. The kocksucker bros do it every day.

  123. 123
    Feathers says:

    @Corner Stone: Hence the purge of the Rockefeller Republicans of the Northeast. Planned Parenthood used to be heavily supported by Republicans. But they got pushed out. This meant that the Kochs and their ilk had the run of the joint.

    Living in New England, it really is horrible to see the kinds of people who are only Republicans because their parents and grandparents were talking trash that you know would utterly horrify their ancestors. I think some of this is why the asshole card is being played so hard. Your dickishness is now constitutionally protected. And they love the Party for it and will remain diehard Republicans for life, doing whatever the Kochs want them to.

    I swear half the “Obamacare” awfulness is to keep New England doctors out of the Democratic Party. I’m currently looking at a career change and realized that going towards healthcare was problematic because it would be far to easy to spend my days having to keep my mouth shut in a room full of Republicans. Doctors were Republicans back in the 50s and 60s, so they are now, too. Makes you shudder at the contempt they have for their patients/clients. I know, NOTALLDOCTORS,, but way too many based on the temping that I’ve been doing recently.

  124. 124
    Dmbeaster says:

    “I know it makes you sick to think of that word, ‘fairness

    Man, if that doesn’t summarize most succintly the moral sickness of these fukks.

  125. 125
    Ruckus says:

    @Felonius Monk:
    You can stop buying some of their products. It takes a bit of study and effort but you will not be 100% successful. Not if you live in the modern US. They have their fingers (actually both arms) in oil and a lot of it behind the scenes so if you use oil/gas/gasoline/diesel, in some way they made money off of it.

  126. 126
    Joel says:

    @oldgold: The latter generation Rockefellers were moderates, of a sort.

  127. 127
    Ruckus says:

    @Dmbeaster:
    We speak distinctly here. When we want to say fucking assholes, we say fucking assholes.

  128. 128
    Kathleen says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Plus they have first dibs on transfusions of cute warm puppy blood. Cheney has to wait his turn.

  129. 129
    Jeffro says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    She got plenty of attention for The Dark Side. Well worth reading if you haven’t already. She’s one of my heroes.

    Seconded. Great book and also great to offer to one’s right-leaning family/friends, especially if they were W supporters.

  130. 130
    Kathleen says:

    @Elizabelle: I agree. Their bias is very obvious. However, my local NBC affiliate is the best source of local news and its reporters have done some excellent in depth pieces on police related incidents (but reporting of “national” news is terrible, as they get feeds from the overlords).

  131. 131
    reality-based (the original, not the troll) says:

    @OzarkHillbilly

    one of my favorite recent New Yorker cartoons. I can’t say why.

    http://www.newyorker.com/magaz.....wing-blood:

    (embedded in an article. )

    Trapped here in North Dakota, my New Yorker subscription is my lifeline. Under David Remnick’s editorship, the magazine is a national treasure. Even IF it’s egregiously well-edited! The ghost of E.B. White still stalks the halls – – – –

  132. 132
    reality-based (the original, not the troll) says:

    – the cartoon about “driving six white horses”

  133. 133
    Underpaid Propagandist says:

    12. The odious Gary Sernovitz is a major “liberal” supporter of Big Oil and fracking. I think he fashions himself as a neo-Hitchens.

  134. 134
    Chris says:

    @SFAW:

    Re: your point about the New Deal: there’s been a right-wing meme called something like “the Constitution in Exile” which has been around for a number of years. The Constitution in Exile relates (I believe) almost exclusively to the post-New Deal environment/government.

    They really are as kooky as a bunch of flat-earthers.

    They’re just flat-earthers with a ton of money, who are going to force all the rest of us to live in their reality whether we want to or not.

    @Feathers:

    I’m currently looking at a career change and realized that going towards healthcare was problematic because it would be far to easy to spend my days having to keep my mouth shut in a room full of Republicans.

    Being honest, this is a good part of the reason I didn’t continue ROTC after trying it for a couple of years in college.

    A quarter of my high school was Muslim (that’s just high school in the U.S; the number shoots up if you go to earlier schools in Paris or Brussels). Not even going to pretend I was that close to most of them, but I don’t have to be. It was enough of a background to my life that living in an environment where the words “hajji,” “raghead,” “dune coon” and “sand nigger” are used as punctuation didn’t really appeal to me.

  135. 135
    sdhays says:

    But to the “middle third” these positions seemed motivated not by ideological principle but by greed.

    I’m confused. I thought greed was their ideological principle.

  136. 136
    liberal says:

    @oldgold: the fascinating book _The Golden Rule_ claims that the energy and other capital-intensive sectors supported the New Deal because they stood to lose less than labor intensive sectors. And backing the govt would give them greater access to the powers of the govt.

  137. 137

    A new, data-filled study by the Harvard scholars Theda Skocpol and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez reports that the Kochs have established centralized command of a “nationally-federated, full-service, ideologically focused” machine that “operates on the scale of a national U.S. political party.”

    It is a national political party.

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