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Walsh writes: "In new audio and transcripts of one retreat panel, obtained by The Undercurrent and provided exclusively to Salon, three Koch-funded activists shared the lessons of using new strategies to promote 'well-being' to reach elusive GOP constituencies: young people, Latinos and women."

The Koch brothers want to be cool to young people. (photo: AP)
The Koch brothers want to be cool to young people. (photo: AP)

Secret New Tape Exposes Kochs' Ludicrous Strategy to Win Over America

By Joan Walsh, Salon

02 September 13

Takeaway from secret panel on outreach to women, Latinos and youth? Dems should fear Koch money, but not messaging

series of leaked panel discussions from the Koch brothers’ June retreat shows that their right-wing donors’ network is focused on a GOP takeover of the U.S. Senate, and the 2014 midterms generally. But a parallel tier of programming during the lavish weekend advanced the brothers’ newest priority: Reversing Americans’ perceptions that they’re just greedy gazillionaires by repackaging their research and activism as promoting Americans’ “well-being,” not merely free-market fanaticism.

In new audio and transcripts of one retreat panel, obtained by The Undercurrent and provided exclusively to Salon, three Koch-funded activists shared the lessons of using new strategies to promote “well-being” to reach elusive GOP constituencies: young people, Latinos and women. Their remarks were alternately condescending and stereotypical, with the occasional flash of insight that triggered lame political advice.  If their presentations are any measure of the quality of the Kochs’ attempted rebranding, progressives still have to fear the conservative brothers’ money, but their messaging, not so much.

“I have a big surprise for everyone here: Young people like beer,” joked Evan Feinberg of the Koch-funded Generation Opportunity. At least I think he was trying to make a joke. GenOpp is the group behind those “Creepy Uncle Sam” anti-Obamacare ads that backfired against the right. So understandably, Feinberg didn’t mention Creepy Uncle Sam, but bragged about GenOpp’s recent “Free the Brews” campaign, which used his generation’s interest in craft brewing to advance the Kochs’ deregulation agenda.

Feinberg, a former Rand Paul staffer who ran against GOP Rep. Tim Murphy of Pittsburgh in 2012 as a Tea Party Republican (and lost), insists GenOpp is nonpartisan, in order to retain its tax status. But there he was, preening for the Koch network, at a retreat mostly devoted to taking back the Senate, with only GOP office-holders in attendance.

Here’s Feinberg’s whole “Free the Brews” pitch. You’ll see why they pay him the big bucks.

Young Americans are really interested in the craft brewing industry.  In fact, I’ve got a couple of friends who brew beer in their basement right now.  They’d rather leave their jobs, and become an entrepreneur, and start their own brewery.  It really actually is something that marks our generation.  It’s a cultural phenomenon.

We actually did an experiment where we use technology on Twitter.  We wanted to — overall we wanted to know what do young people care about?  How do they form their communities online?  And so we did a really intense analysis of their Twitter streams.  We found out that craft breweries and craft beer were actually the largest cultural segment in North Carolina.  So we set about to talk about craft breweries because it’s what they care about, so we care about it.

Just like a lot of other businesses, it’s one that’s marked by tons of government regulations, tons of cronyism where businesses are trying to keep the little guy down…So we did a Free the Brews campaign.  It featured young entrepreneurs that we’re really supporting and who were really trying to cut through the red tape and get started.  We got hundreds of people into that event.  In Asheville, North Carolina we have over 500 people that we were able to impact through our Free the Brews event.

…We’ve been able to get tons of these young Americans interested in the ideas of freedom, not because we came through with a really great way to talk about marginal tax rates, but because we were able to talk about freedom and regulation about something that they care about.

Nobody asked Feinberg to define “tons.” Feinberg’s career is a case study in the way wingnut welfare creates a culture of dependency, or alternatively, the debilitating effects of affirmative action for white people.

His craft beer remarks let Rachel Campos-Duffy segue into the way her Latino-outreach organization, LIBRE, has worked with GenOpp on the issue of “freeing” food trucks, too. The main area of overlap seemed to be that GenOpp’s targets tend to eat the food – millennials love “having a truck pull up and bring delicious food directly to you,” Feinberg explained — while LIBRE’s targets tend to make the food. But both groups will benefit if Big Government doesn’t over-regulate the growing food truck industry, Campos-Duffy argued. (It’s a variation on the right’s embrace of Uber, Airbnb and Burning Man.) She explained that LIBRE is working in Florida with “the fast food truck communities” to fight “big government, and cronyism, and over-regulation [of] the little guy.”

Interestingly, Feinberg, Campos-Duffy and Teresa Oelke of Americans for Prosperity, who focused on outreach to women, agreed that Democrats have done a better job of convincing young people, women and Latinos that they care about them. Campos-Duffy framed the panel as showing how Koch activists work to promote the “six components of well-being,” which she defined as “health and environment, living standards, freedom, community, relationships, and peace and security.”

Oelke and Campos-Duffy discussed the challenges in besting the Democrats when talking to women about politics and “well-being.” Oelke explained:

They want to know if you’re building a world that they want to be a part of, if you’re a building a community that they want to be a part of.  So for example, they may not like Obamacare, but they trust the President’s intentions to make the world a better place.  And that goes a long way (inaudible).

CAMPOS-DUFFY:  That actually reminds me of Michelle Obama.  You know, these young girls were abducted in Africa, and what would we tell (inaudible) bring our girls home.  Now, it didn’t do much to help the outcome, but it did (inaudible) some goals, that she cared.  And that’s what Democrats want to do.  That’s what they care about.  That’s their goal.  They want to help.  And so on the right, we want (inaudible).

OELKE:  We have to do a better job of selling our motivations and what motivates us.  You know our activists, they do care.  The people in this room, they do (inaudible).  They want these people to have an opportunity to move from poverty to prosperity.  That’s what drives us.

Yet many voters distrust Republicans, the three admitted – and little or nothing they shared with the group is likely to change anyone’s minds.

Campos-Duffy said that LIBRE chapters are helping open baseball fields to the community, and partnering with H&R Block to assist people in filling out their tax returns. That’s nice, but nobody asked her if they are helping any of them claim the earned income tax credit, a formerly Republican idea now repudiated by most of the party as leading to the problem of the “47 percent” who pay no taxes.  Oelke described seminars that help would-be entrepreneurs with business budgeting and tax licensing problems.

All of these efforts, Campos-Duffy explained, “help us to demonstrate our goodwill, that will sort of help show that we care, and show how we can depend on each other and not (inaudible) for everything on the government.” Sounds good. But then she noted that everyone “saw what happened in Katrina when people relied solely on the government” – a rather condescending take on the suffering of poor people who were abandoned when the Bush administration failed at what even conservatives normally acknowledge as a basic function of government: help in a natural disaster.

Unbelievably, Oelke bragged about how AFP, which lobbies against environmental regulation, helped to provide bottled water after a chemical spill in West Virginia’s Elk River. “That’s how Americans for Prosperity Foundation was introduced to the community,” she kvelled, “because we were there for them, and we were invested in what mattered to them.”

To be fair, though, AFP’s candidate is winning in the West Virginia Senate race, since anti-environmental regulation messaging always plays well there, anyway. Sending bottled water to a community coping with corporate poisoning might not be effective “outreach” in many other places.

The Kochs may eventually win over some skeptics with their emphasis on “well-being,” and their efforts to mute their self-interested neo-feudalism. But if their June retreat panel is any indication, they’ve got a lot more work to do on messaging. The panel closed with a shout out to Campos-Duffy’s husband, GOP Rep. Sean Duffy — the pair are veterans of MTV’s “Real World” — for sitting in the audience and taking care of his own children on Father’s Day, while his wife tried to save the world. your social media marketing partner


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It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

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-23 # fredboy 2014-09-02 10:52
Dems, or Dims, should master inclusivity and sharing and celebrating party values. Instead, they are all over the place. And every person I know who, like me, has tried to get involved is ignored except for the constant plea for money.
+17 # Caliban 2014-09-03 00:01
"Dims"? Are you talking about yourself?

Dim or not, the way to truly get involved with the party of your choice is to start at the local level--starting with precinct organizations and working up to town and county groups. Get to know the people who do the grassroots work, join them, and add what ever you have to offer.

The Big Picture issues are always there, but the real work of solving them is done at the level of personal involvement, both during campaigns and between them.
+4 # kalpal 2014-09-03 05:11
You are like my friend who attended a party meeting and began ordering people about as though he knew all and should have been immediately placed in charge of everybody so that his innate wisdom would make life so much better for the multitudes. He resented their not seeing and fully acknowledging his obvious superiority and leadership.
+76 # Barbara K 2014-09-02 10:55
So they want us to think they are interested in our "well-being"? Well one thing they better learn is that OUR VOTES ARE NOT FOR SALE !! We have no desire to have a King Koch. Pretending that they care about us is a farce. We have already seen what they are interested in doing TO US! Nothing FOR US. The Koch Kings won't even clean up their contamination and destruction they are already doing to our country. SAY NO KING KOCH !!!! VOTE THESE LUNATICS OUT !!

+45 # ctcarole 2014-09-02 11:11
Okay. OUR VOTES ARE NOT FOR SALE!! and VOTE THESE LUNATICS OUT!! Now design a way to protect us from the lunatics we vote in selling their votes.
+15 # ritawalpoleague 2014-09-02 13:35
Yep, Barbara K - Bushwhacked, Kochsucked, and Oh Bomb Ah'd we are today, in this, our U.S. of (greed and power) A.(ddiction).

Lots more behavior modification is essential, i.e. regulations that are heftily enforced in protection agencies such as E.P.A., OSHA, et. al.. Enforcement (meaningful) of vital regs. went bye bye in the early George W. Bush years, along with quashing of essential constitutional rights, topped off by Pres. Obama's signing in anything but transparency (New Year's Eve in Hawaii), following his stating he would veto it, the 2012 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), that includes an article (law) that allows for arrest by military of citizens, with no due process (trial) as they are placed into indefinite detention.

One big reason that I now support an Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, and, with countless others, beg him to run in '14, since he has for years been a consistent people backer and server, vs. pol. puppet clown whore.

+7 # bingers 2014-09-03 11:04
True, but Sanders would be 2016's George McGovern. I'd love to see him as president, but he would only carry Vermont.
+3 # Nominae 2014-09-02 20:15
Quoting Barbara K:
So they want us to think they are interested in our "well-being"? Well one thing they better learn is that OUR VOTES ARE NOT FOR SALE !! We have no desire to have a King Koch. Pretending that they care about us is a farce. We have already seen what they are interested in doing TO US! Nothing FOR US. The Koch Kings won't even clean up their contamination and destruction they are already doing to our country. SAY NO KING KOCH !!!! VOTE THESE LUNATICS OUT !!


Just so !

"... my, my, my, said the spider to fly ...
jump right ahead in my bed ..." ~ Rolling Stones
0 # RLF 2014-09-03 05:38
I vote for free and open handgun carry laws on the upper east side of can any self respecting repub like koch go against it...just because it is his neighborhood?
+29 # arquebus 2014-09-02 11:20
The Tea Party and its fellow runners are all anarchists.
+22 # jsluka 2014-09-02 15:06
More like fascists than anarchists.
+37 # Bev 2014-09-02 11:30
Barbara, You can't vote the Kochs out. They would never hold an elective office but remain free to fund those who would be their patsies, while laughing at all of us. It remains to be seen if the voters can see through their arrogance and money.
+25 # Barbara K 2014-09-02 11:55
Hi, Bev, I wasn't writing about voting out the Kochs, I was talking about the lunatics in the government. I know that the Kochs are not elected officials of any kind, they just buy them. Sorry, maybe I wasn't very clear. Maybe all the voters won't be able to see thru all their arrogance, we just need enough to see thru them to get the lunatics from Local to DC governments out.


+20 # REDPILLED 2014-09-02 14:02
Boycott all products sold by Koch brothers and their subsidiaries, and urge as many others as you can to do the same.

Sign the pledge: Don't buy these Koch products
0 # Cassandra2012 2014-10-11 15:34
And free-flowing pollution. They are heavily invested in fracking and especially in the crude oil/tar sands pipelines. (See recent article in Nation on this!)
+39 # kevenwood 2014-09-02 11:53
Koch's Republicans winning over women, Latinos, and youth is like a pack of bit bulls winning over rabbits, cats and possums. It's not just unlikely, but they'll soon realize that they'll have to pretend to be something that they are not just to have a chance. You know, something dishonest and of false advertising like, say, "compassionate conservatism."
+28 # bmiluski 2014-09-02 11:54
"and provided exclusively to Salon,".

This is so typical of us Libs. We keep preaching to the choir. Why wasn't this thing leaked out to the internet?
The koch bros. are laughing into their craft brewed beer.
+14 # Buddha 2014-09-02 15:17
Salon is mostly an internet accessed site, the issue is why this isn't able to get out to the mass-media that is consumed by most of the voting public...and that is because said mainstream media outlets are all owned by MegaCorps who have a vested interest in pushing the same Loch Oligarchic narratives...
+4 # bmiluski 2014-09-03 09:04
Unfortunately, you are right Buddha. But there MUST be some way to get this out to the "people".
+24 # davidr 2014-09-02 12:13
Beer & food trucks aren't where it's at. Laughable. The big ticket items are race, gender, religion & class.

These were the underpinnings of Nixon's Southern strategy and the "Reagan Democrats". They are powerful, visceral matters that can move people to vote, and for a long time, the right was able to use them to its advantage.

Today, however, demography is working against a whites-only constituency. Fierce, old-time religion has worn thin among women, youth and others. And the right's ideal (Hobbesian) labor market has raised their consciousness, too. As for class, it remains a huge political lever, but for whom? Nixonian politics defined class as the liberal media and East Coast elites vs. "the real America", and that worked for a long time. Now, however, it has become 1% vs. 99%, which is not nearly so favorable to the right.

If race, gender, and increasingly religion and class are no longer enough to sustain a right wing majority, then beer & tacos won't do it. Voter suppression & unlimited corporate spending are now the only right-wing electoral strategies worth considering. Feinberg & Campos-Duffy were there for comic relief.
+26 # reiverpacific 2014-09-02 12:15
I love the "Sending bottled water to communities coping with CORPORATE poisoning" bit, especially as much of the bottled water marketed to the gullible has been discovered to be the same stuff you get from your tap and your local Water Treatment Plant,, -IF it can handle the CORPORATE POISONING of the natural source in the first place.
It's ALL a big con game.
+5 # RLF 2014-09-03 06:41
Kochs sell bottled water. Method to their madness.
0 # Cassandra2012 2014-10-11 15:36
And pollute and invest in pollution by the tar sands 'oil' pipelines.
+23 # HenryS1 2014-09-02 12:17
To say that the messaging is ludicrous is to underestimate it. Recent history shows quite clearly that Republican strategy has consistently succeeded in getting people to vote against their own self-interest using emotional appeals on hot button issues. Lots of people donate to causes which fund Republican campaigns because of clever masking. I'm not saying that progressives should emulate this (although they can and do), but what is said out of context here may not appeal to the typical RSN reader but it does play in Peoria, so to speak.
+19 # hd70642 2014-09-02 12:35
After hearing it reminds of the evasive propaganda the cigarette companies did while denying smoking causes cancer
+7 # Nominae 2014-09-02 20:25
Quoting hd70642:
After hearing it reminds of the evasive propaganda the cigarette companies did while denying smoking causes cancer

Good point !

And, swearing before Congress that Nicotine is *not* an addictive substance!

How can anyone get away with that without being instantly escorted out of Chambers by a bailiff and then taken directly to a holding cell for perjury ?

Tobacco money and lobbyists you say ?
To quote comic character Emily Latella:

"Oh. Neeeeeever mind !"
+21 # Blackjack 2014-09-02 13:03
Now here's something for the Kochs to think about while "sending their bottled water to a community coping with corporate poisoning." Who does the poisoning? Those corporations, supported by the Kochs, that have no problem poisoning any little surface of the earth as long as it nets them more profit. And, by the way, bottled water itself is a huge pollution creator, while public water is not, unless the Kochs and their ilk have had their filthy hands in it!
0 # Cassandra2012 2014-10-11 15:37
They need to be FED their own pollution.... maybe when their children/grandc hildren start getting cancer they will wake up?
+15 # pegasus4508 2014-09-02 13:20
Too bad Republicans assume everyone is as ill informed as their voters. I had no problem using every tax break GW gave businesses. Do you believe for ONE second I would ever consider voting for him? Give people some credit. We have HEARD your message of hate and exclusion. Not many of us will forget it.
+11 # tswhiskers 2014-09-02 14:28
Honestly, Americans have not been known for being overly intellectual, but they're not mental basket cases either. And if the gazillionaires think they can buy off the public by helping college kids learn to brew beer and assuring Latinos, blacks and women they REALLY DO care about the welfare of average Americans, then it is obvious the brothers have a genius for increasing the family fortune but they are ignorant of everything else that human beings value or care about.
+2 # RLF 2014-09-03 05:40
I think you're wrong...I think they are mostly basketcases!
+3 # jsluka 2014-09-02 15:04
"Kvelled" = Yiddish for felling happy and proud.
+15 # hkatzman 2014-09-02 15:44
"Just like a lot of other businesses, it’s one that’s marked by tons of government regulations, tons of cronyism where businesses are trying to keep the little guy down…"

This message is funded by Koch brothers who want to remove government regulation that could actually protect small businesses from the kind of crony capitalism that are the Koch goals.

No wonder people get confused by the mixed messages.
+1 # chinaski 2014-09-05 07:28
They're like a leering, drunken misogynist bigot sitting on a barstool trying to pull it together enough (because he knows he's a pig) to hit on the attractive woman three stools over.
"Heeeaay gooolookin' whaddaya say I buyy you a derrinnk? Huh?"
Yeah, go get em tiger.
+1 # dovelane1 2014-09-06 04:35
The Koch brothers, and all those like them don't really want freedom; they want freedom from consequences. They are so focused on their "good intentions," that they want to totally ignore any possible negative consequences their actions may bring about.

It's been written that there are two enemies to freedome: those who want to control everyone and everything around them, and those who do not believe they need to control themself. I suspect the Koch brothers fit both definitions perfectly.

Again, because they are so focused on their good intentions (making money, making money, and making more money,) anything that costs them money is a bad thing.

I am sure they surround theselves with "yes" people, just like w. Bush did, so all they hear is what they are paying people to tell them. And all they see are the mirrors they are paying people to be, who are telling them that they are the "fairest of them all."

There is no courage in people who want to control everyone and everything around them. As with all greed, it's all based on fear.

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