The Koch 300: Rise of an Empire

300-Banner

Over the weekend, the Koch brothers’ conservative political network of some 300 donors announced that it would raise and spend almost $900 million in the 2016 election cycle, much of which of course would come through corporate donations. That’s more than double the then-record $407 million that it spent during the 2012 elections.

As the Washington Post reports:

“The figure comes close to the $1 billion that each of the two major parties’ presidential nominees are expected to spend in 2016, and it cements the (Koch) network’s standing as one of the country’s most potent political forces. With its resources and capabilities — including a national field operation and cutting-edge technology — it is challenging the primacy of the official parties. In the 2012 elections, the Republican National Committee spent $404 million, while the Democratic National Committee shelled out $319 million.”

I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about. I’m just as certain as you are that the $900 million donated by some of the richest people in America will be invested in politicians who champion the cause of the disappearing middle class and the increasingly stressed working class, and who want to see ordinary Americans treated fairly. (Admittedly, we won’t know that for absolutely positively sure, since most of the money will be raised anonymously through non-profit shell agencies. But surely we can safely assume that.)

I’m equally sure that conservative leaders such as Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz won’t be tempted to craft their 2016 political messaging and policies to appeal to the interests of those 300 or so potential deep-pocket donors, especially when those interests conflict with the interests of the 320,090,557 other Americans. In fact, I’m sure that’s exactly what Walker, Rubio, Paul and Cruz told those donors when they met this weekend behind closed doors at a Koch-sponsored conference in Palm Beach, California.

Again, you and I weren’t invited, but surely those presidential contenders reminded their gracious hosts that in a democracy like our own, all American citizens have an equal voice and an equal vote in their government, and that the viewpoints of a housewife in Hahira or a factory worker in Columbus must be given weight equal to their own.  That’s the American way. (U.S. Sen. David Perdue of Georgia was also in attendance to thank the Koch donors for supporting his own 2014 campaign.)

We should also acknowledge that this outburst of laudable, entirely public-spirited civic involvement was made possible by the landmark Citizens United ruling, which together with other recent rulings opened the door to unrestricted, uncontrolled and undisclosed campaign spending. I’m sure that the five justices in the Supreme Court majority in Citizens United had no idea that the Koch gathering was happening, let alone that it came almost five years to the day from that ruling’s announcement.  I’m also sure they have seen no grounds to second-guess their finding in that decision and in other rulings, especially the part in which they explained that unlimited contributions would not produce corruption or even the appearance of corruption.

In the most recent of those rulings, McCutcheon v. FEC (2014), Chief Justice John Roberts laid the logic out plain and simple:

“We have said that government regulation may not target the general gratitude a candidate may feel toward those who support him or his allies, or the political access such support may afford. ‘Ingratiation and access … are not corruption’ (Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, 2010). They embody a central feature of democracy, that constituents support candidates who share their beliefs and interests, and candidates who are elected can be expected to be responsive to those concerns.”

So even if $900 million buys an awful lot of “ingratiation and access”, that’s a good thing. And if the candidates elected with the help of that money turn out to be very “responsive” to the concerns of those who contributed it, that too is good, as Roberts points out. It’s just the system working as the Founders intended it.

I’m sure we all agree with that.

Reader Comments 0

1503 comments
dbm1
dbm1

The basic cause of the kind of problem Jay describes here is mixed-economy statism, which creates both pressure and temptation for business to curry favor with politicians.

TBS
TBS

DIA


@DownInAlbany @TBS @JamVet @Visual_Cortex


That means exactly what?

Who said Biden didn't say SEAL Team Six?

I didn't.

You claimed that his saying it lead to to 30 American deaths.

Is there a reason you can not back up that assertion?

Well except for that fact you have no proof to substantiate the assertion.

Another fail for you but you keep swinging. 


TBS
TBS

@JamVet @TBS @DownInAlbany @Visual_Cortex


Lying In Albany made a claim he can't back up. It is that simple and he knows it but his fragile ego wont allow him to admit it

His original assertion was that Biden saying SEALS lead to 30 American deaths.

He provides no proof of Biden's words leading to any deaths but a excerpt of a speech of Biden saying ".........SEALS......"


What a clown

LeninTime
LeninTime

From New York Times: 

It has also put to rest the notion that Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, would be so staggered by the twin blows of Western sanctions and a collapse in oil prices that he would forsake the separatists in order to foster better relations with the West

***
So maybe Obama's crowing about the Russian economy 'in tatters' was a bit premature? 

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@LeninTime It's not the first time that he has prematurely spiked the football.

Probably won't be the last.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@DownInAlbany @LeninTime

Yeah, but why was he spiking the football in the first place? 

Boasting of leaving the 9th largest economy in the world in tatters is nothing for the leader of a civilized nation to brag about, is it?

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

I thought Palin liked Foxnews..

==========================


But Palin again hit media outlets — including Fox News, which she called “kind of a quasi-, or assumed, conservative outlet,” for being skeptical of her and of Donald Trump.

Palin said she hopes the media “won’t be looking at this as some kind of reality show, a joke” and called for unity among conservatives heading into 2016.



Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/sean-hannity-sarah-palin-speech-iowa-114675.html#ixzz3Q8PedqDT

gotalife
gotalife

I have never seen the gop more divided and conquered.

 

LeninTime
LeninTime

@HeadleyLamar 

A pretty good read on what the Russian dictator maybe up to next. 

***
You're citing Thomas Friedman as a reliable source on what Putin is up to? 

Thanks but, no thanks. 

As for the New York Times itself, they have proven yet again with the Ukraine situation to be an utterly uncritical mouthpiece of US government propaganda. Their views are completely worthless on this matter. If you care to learn, you might check out this: https://consortiumnews.com/2015/01/24/nyt-is-lost-in-its-ukraine-propaganda/

NYT Is Lost in Its Ukraine Propaganda

In late February, a conference is scheduled in New York City to discuss the risk of nuclear war if computers reach the level of artificial intelligence and take decisions out of human hands. But there is already the old-fashioned danger of nuclear war, started by human miscalculation, fed by hubris and propaganda.

That possible scenario is playing out in Ukraine, where the European Union and the United States provoked a political crisis on Russia’s border in November 2013, then backed a coup d’etat in February 2014 and have presented a one-sided account of the ensuing civil war, blaming everything on Russia.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)

Possibly the worst purveyor of this Cold War-style propaganda has been the New York Times, which has given its readers a steady diet of biased reporting and analysis, including now accusing the Russians for a resurgence in the fighting.

One way the Times has falsified the Ukraine narrative is by dating the origins of the crisis to several months after the crisis actually began. So, the lead story in Saturday’s editions ignored the actual chronology of events and started the clock with the appearance of Russian troops in Crimea in spring 2014.


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@LeninTime @HeadleyLamar

see also:

http://bit.ly/1wB0QQt


Friedman actually styled himself a critic of the war he so strongly advocated for, but the path of his criticism was as Greenwald described:

(1) If the war is done the right way, great benefits can be achieved.
(2) If the war is done the wrong way, unimaginable disasters will result.
(3) The Bush administration is doing this war the wrong way, not the right way, on every level.
(4) Given all of that, I support the waging of this war.

If only the ungrateful wogs would have done what they should have done then everything would have been great. 

gotalife
gotalife

Sourkraut is our Baghdad Bob.

Real Americans do not attack our President when he is out of our country on foreign policy.

gotalife
gotalife

Need more gop fake scandals.


Politics is too boring.

straker
straker

Lenin - "at a strictly intellectual level"


There are many intellectual lightweights here along with many poorly schooled adolescents.


Sometimes they are one and the same.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

an archipelago of no-go Islamist islands embedded in the heart of Europe.

Go jump in a pool, Krauthammer.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Visual_Cortex And, some libs on here take offense to "drinking Kool-Aid."

When you're bashing cons, obviously, NOTHING is out of line, huh?

(for those who do not know, Krauthammer was paralyzed back in his college days when he apparently dove into an empty swimming pool)

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@DownInAlbany @Visual_Cortex

I'm sorry, that was wrong.

It should read, "Go jump in a pool again, Krauthammer."

(If that guy is going to lie and get as hateful as he just did, with all his power and influence to bear, I sure as heck can take a cheap shot like I just did.)

Cupofjoe
Cupofjoe

@Nobody_Knows @DownInAlbany @Visual_Cortex 

Actually most people understand and can parse through news v. talking head bs opinion.  Relax, don't be offended so much that you wish death upon someone, and find more fact based outlets that "work for you".

JamVet
JamVet

@DownInAlbany @Visual_Cortex 

He ain't very bright for doing that!

But it shows virtually every time that he opens his fetid mouth for Faux News.

A disgusting, horrible human being.

Wheelchair or not...

Since Krauthammer can't be bothered to check on mere matters of fact, I found the transcript of President Obama's speech about the death of Osama bin Laden, and checked the pronoun counts and rates. In fact, the speech contains 1396 words, of which 10 are 'I', for a rate of 0.7%. Perhaps Krauthammer was thinking of President Reagan's Address to the Nation on Events in Lebanon and Grenada, which did have "29 references to I" — though the overall word count was higher, so that the rate was exactly the same, at 0.7%.

It's a tribute to our nation's culture that a man like Krauthammer, who so consistently expresses blatant quantitative falsehoods about national leaders, is not only out of jail but comfortably established as a commentator for a major media outlet.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@TBS @Cupofjoe @Nobody_Knows @DownInAlbany @Visual_Cortex


Who wished death on anyone?

Well, spreading lies about "no go zones" could very well get someone killed, so...

But for the record, it certainly wasn't me. My joke was intentionally tasteless, but nothing more. (And certainly nothing Krauthammer hasn't heard about a hundred times by now.)

Nobody_Knows
Nobody_Knows

@DownInAlbany @Visual_Cortex


People who still believe that no-go one crap agree with Krauthammer. 

Are you one of them? 

Are you ok with him being intellectually dishonest by continuing to push a talking point that has been debunked?

Why do you think he is continuing to push this talking point?

Could it it be to stoke fear into a gullible segment of the American population? 

TBS
TBS

@DownInAlbany @JamVet @Visual_Cortex


The blogger who claimed that Biden saying SEAL Team 6 lead to 30 Americans being killed is feigning outrage because someone said Krauthammer should go jump in a pool.

Hilarious. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JamVet @DownInAlbany @Visual_Cortex

He ain't very bright for doing that!

In fairness to Mr. Krauthammer, he didn't jump into an "empty" pool as DiA typed (I'm sure unintentionally) but, rather, he misjudged the depth of a pool into which he dived.

Of course the accident was tragic and yes, of course I am crossing a line with my comments. But I'm having a hard time regretting it, given what prompted my outburst.

TBS
TBS

@DownInAlbany @TBS @JamVet @Visual_Cortex


That means exactly what?

Who said Biden didn't say SEAL Team Six?

I didn't.

You claimed that his saying it lead to to 30 American deaths.

Is there a reason you can not back up that assertion?

Well except for that fact you have no proof to substantiate the assertion.

Another fail for you but you keep swinging. 



LeninTime
LeninTime

Time and time again, the far right and ultra-con crowd prove they just don't have an answer to the tough questions that are raised by their claims. 

Sometimes it's hard not to conclude that they just don't have the chops, at a strictly intellectual level.

straker
straker

Visual - "only their hairdressers know for sure"


Or, their bartenders?

AyeAyeSir
AyeAyeSir

Hey ........... I've got to go walk my daughter's dog.


Everyone be nice !

fedup52
fedup52

@AyeAyeSir  This the con in me:


If she is not responsible for her dog she should not have one.