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Pierce writes: "Does anyone seriously think the Kochs are going to take direction from Karl Rove or, more hilariously, a third-rate tire salesman like Reince Priebus, let along some unnamed Republican operatives who are running their mouths? The Kochs haven't had to take direction from anyone since they were zygotes."

Author and political blogger Charles Pierce. (photo: unknown)
Author and political blogger Charles Pierce. (photo: unknown)

The New Koch

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

21 February 13


his appears to be my morning for harshing liberal mellows, but I am not as giddy with delight as a lot of people are at all the fine talk about how the Koch Brothers are being forced by political circumstance to adjust the means by which they will sublet the public sphere.

"The massive amount of outside political spending unleashed by Citizens United did not, as feared, make it easier for rich people to buy an election. Instead, it showed that rich people are pretty dumb about politics. Take the billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch who are spending their 2013 figuring out why they the money they spent in 2012 was such a waste. They have already fired most of their 100 staffers at Americans for Prosperity, and they're now conducting an audit.Like American Crossroads and the Republican National Committee, the Koch brothers are trying to figure out why they couldn't beat President Obama -- and several Democratic Senate candidates in red states. The Kochs have delayed their twice-a-year meetings with big conservative donors until they've finished their audit, Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel reports. The results of the audit will be presented at an April seminar, Vogel writes, adding, "Early indications suggest that they'll continue playing in politics but will tweak their approach to reflect 2012 lessons."

I don't think you can look at the success that the Kochs and people like them - and the vast array of institutional money-laundries that they run - are enjoying out in the states and judge their political activities a failure quite yet. (They've done everything but slap a logo on the Wisconsin state capitol building and, as nearly as I can tell, their investment in ALEC seems still to be paying off.) True, they didn't elect Willard Romney president, but to attribute that catastrophe to uncoordinated messaging and the maverick political instincts of an odd lot of billionnaires is to let a lot of people off a lot of hooks. And it wasn't the Kochs who elevated Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin to positions from which they could screw up the possibility of a Republican Senate. It was thousands of base voters who listen to the radio and to some of the other independent actors making up what passes for a Republican elite these days.

I resist the notion that the 2012 election proves that the Citizens United decision is less of a monstrosity than it is. First of all, it enshrined in attempted constitutional perpetuity some ideas - corporate personhood, money as speech - that are rancid simply on their merits and can only get worse with time. Second, I am more of the opinion that the new era opened by the decision caught everyone by surprise, including the people best equipped to take advantage of it. They will adjust, not their positions on the various issues, but simply their strategies for buying what they want out of the people in the government. Does anyone seriously think the Kochs are going to take direction from Karl Rove or, more hilariously, a third-rate tire salesman like Reince Priebus, let along some unnamed Republican operatives who are running their mouths? The Kochs haven't had to take direction from anyone since they were zygotes. The great thing about having fk-you money is the sheer number of people to whom you can say fk you.

Charlie has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently "Idiot America." He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children. your social media marketing partner


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+63 # tbcrawford 2013-02-21 16:36
Thanks. We do need to keep in touch with reality and your advice is good. Actually, I've been disturbed by the rapidity with which Repubs shifting attention to local efforts, where we all must. This is the lesson of OWS...control the grass roots! I'm pretty certain the Koch brothers get it. As for Citizens United, alas, we ain't seen nothing yet.
+59 # Cactusman 2013-02-21 17:14
That's about right. No, they did not win too well electorally speaking in 2012, but they will learn how to apply their money better in the next cycle. Every important structure they can manipulate to exert their influence is still very much in place. We underestimate it at our own peril.

But it is nice to know that they weren't completely able to run away with the elections either. Let's just not rest on our laurels and be complacent.
+28 # cafetomo 2013-02-21 18:17
Politicians flock to these two like flies to a carcass. The odor of that much money has them rubbing their forelegs together, trying to figure who they can pimp for what is a paltry portion to the 1% of the 1%. The frontal assault on the will of the people is just part of their learning curve. The Brothers Koch aren't stupid twice. What they want and who will be getting it for them, will be an increasingly subversive activity that bears watching.
+21 # Billsy 2013-02-21 18:29
Think global but act LOCAL. The only we to strengthen alternatives to our dollar corrupted Democratic & Republican parties is to build up support for independents at the local level. This takes patience and tenacity.
+47 # cmp 2013-02-21 18:42
The vicious assault on Woman for all of 2012 by the Republicans was not only one of the lowest displays that I've ever seen in my life but it's one that I know, we will not soon forget. It was up and down their darn ticket.

I can't even begin to put my finger on it but it felt much deeper than chauvinism. Scary stuff. I mean so distasteful, that I feel like I need to apologize, as a male, as an American in the 21st century.

Let's face it, they just didn't hurt themselves, they embarrassed each and every one of us..
-65 # Martintfre 2013-02-21 19:21
//The vicious assault on Woman for all of 2012 //
Lame -- the democrats want women to be guaranteed inferior to a rapist murdering men - they truly want women defenseless -- Why do democrats hate women so much?
+8 # cmp 2013-02-22 00:31
It's things like this, that make the point.

~"Why do democrats hate women so much?"~
The truth is, most women are Democrats. And, the majority of the Democratic Party is women.
-9 # bmiluski 2013-02-22 15:29
How much did you get paid to post this stupidity? And who's paying you?
+49 # WestWinds 2013-02-21 20:03
#cmp: Yes, and when you look at their ideal female, it is REALLY scary. Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Ann Colter. Empty and robotic females with skulls full of mush paying homage to the patriarchy in the most demeaning style for women everywhere. In the Koch brothers' world, women mean less than goats, are a commodity and a service provider with no true respect or consideration. One would think these type of women would wake up and snap out of it, but they have been institutionally taught to despise and denigrate themselves (to win God's approval,) and it shows.
+6 # Martintfre 2013-02-21 19:19
//and the Republican National Committee, the Koch brothers are trying to figure out why they couldn't beat President Obama -//

Well The RNC was amazingly stupid - Who could be worse choice to run against Obama care then the father of Obama care?
+30 # JT00 2013-02-21 19:22
I don't know why people keep saying Citizens United doesn't matter because Obama ended up winning the election. The point is not that Obama won, but that the corporate/priva te funding allowed as bad a candidate as Romney (who supported getting rid of social security, medicare, Wall St. deregulation, etc. etc.) to come as close as he did. It had a huge impact! Otherwise, Romney might have lost by a landslide. If anything the lesson for right-wingers is NOT that throwing secret money at an election makes no difference. It's that if they just chose a slightly less terrible candidate and threw money at the problem, they WOULD have won. If the danger of Citizens United isn't acknowledged, next time they might.
+5 # fliteshare 2013-02-21 19:31
Give 'em more rope !
+20 # reiverpacific 2013-02-21 19:41
Historically, totalitarian-as pirant figures do NOT learn from their mistakes and if they continue on to an ending, blame those that they drove so hard from their podium -or in this case from the shadows through their various "Not-for-profit " organizations and PAC's, for their own failures.
I mean, until the moment he offed himself, Hitler blamed the German people for letting him down and had several of his top aides and senior staffers taken out and summarily shot when he suspected that they were trying to suborn or undermine him in his last days.
The Koch's seem to live with a similar degree of megalomania and hubris that they may well be incapable of seeing that their tactics and underlying messages, arrogance and disdain for any kind of self-correction and if challenged with any kind of truth-to-power would howl the latter-day version of "Off with his (or her) head!" and keep on hearing what they want to hear, their ill-gotten but plentiful war-chest so swollen that they can afford to lose so much and still keep pushing for their version of medievalism ("Americans for Prosperity -for a Few")
Long may they continue their pitched battle with the likes of "Curdled" Rove, the Tea Party and other Rethugs until they devour each other in their blinkered inability to look outside their introspective little boxes.
+8 # jjj 2013-02-22 09:48
Hi reiverpacific I like your optimism but fear the Kochs and their ilk will learn faster than we like.
On another note-the content of Mr Peirce's piece is excellent but may we all also applaud that the writing is DELICIOUS. And concise.
+6 # reiverpacific 2013-02-22 13:48
Quoting jjj:
Hi reiverpacific I like your optimism but fear the Kochs and their ilk will learn faster than we like.
On another note-the content of Mr Peirce's piece is excellent but may we all also applaud that the writing is DELICIOUS. And concise.

Just tryin' to keep the glass half-full and usin' history to encourage it.
We'll see for sure.
+1 # cabotool 2013-02-24 10:17
The Koch's were clever to earn their money. Lets hope that they continue to be stupid in the way that they spend their ill gotten gains.
+20 # Smokey 2013-02-21 19:56
Welcome to "Cabaret"!

The situation in today's America is like the situation in Italy, Japan, and Germany, and a few other nations, during the 1920s and into the early 1930s.

The big corporations want more money and influence but they feel restrained and even threatened by the political left. So, people like the Koch brothers are trying to build political alliances with various crackpot groups that want to advance crackpot agendas to rebuild racism, homophobia, patriarchy, etc.

The military provides support.

For the big corporations and the nilitary, it's always a complicated dance. If the right-wing crackpots get too much influence in politics, the United States may wind up with a new Hitler. We may invade more countries in the Middle East, and, maybe, we'll invade Latin America, Africa, and a few other places, to secure fossil fuel supplies and ??????? (When this approach to politics puts on a clean shirt, it's called "neo-conservati sm.")
+12 # turtleislander 2013-02-22 07:25
Business in the US has been far too powerful for far too long - decades. Citizens United was like the big ending of a fireworks display. 20 years ago I was permanently crippled by the driver of a rental car. The rental car company was protected to a maximum of $15K liability. The car renter was from Sweden and so I was screwed. My medical care and Prosthetics over the years have easily topped $100K out of my pocket. Now if you or I go out and cripple someone with our car, we are exposed to unlimited damages. The rental car company owns the car. We own our cars. That is the basis of liability. So why is the company protected and we are not? This is only one of countless examples.
Check it out sometime. You can pick at random all sorts of privileges and protections and see that the diminution of individuals has been part and parcel of the rise of corporate might.
0 # cabotool 2013-02-24 10:22
Protection for people like you is available. It is called, "under insured driver" in your insurance policy.
+2 # REM 2013-02-23 08:58
The impression that most people and lazy journalists have about the influence of money is all wrong. Here is a real analysis that shows money did quite a lot for the Right, if not so much for Turd Blossom.

I still wonder about electronic vote theft. It seems on the surface that there was less of it than when GBW stole Ohio in 2004.

By the way, if you would like an Australian's perspective on our American craziness, and a good deal of education on economics, check this out:

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