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~ PINKERITE TALKS TO ANTHROPOLOGISTS ~
The Brian Ferguson Interview
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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

So why is Koch so bad?

Illustration from The Economist article Kochtopus's Garden

I make a big deal about all the connections between Steven Pinker and his friends and Charles Koch. But why? What's so bad about Koch

I was first alerted to the awfulness of Charles Koch - or rather the Koch brothers because David Koch was still alive then - thanks to Jane Mayer's 2010 New Yorker piece
Covert Operations The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama

From the piece:

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

And...

The brothers realized that their brand of politics didn’t sell at the ballot box. Charles Koch became openly scornful of conventional politics. “It tends to be a nasty, corrupting business,” he told a reporter at the time. “I’m interested in advancing libertarian ideas.” According to Doherty’s book, the Kochs came to regard elected politicians as merely “actors playing out a script.” A longtime confidant of the Kochs told Doherty that the brothers wanted to “supply the themes and words for the scripts.” In order to alter the direction of America, they had to “influence the areas where policy ideas percolate from: academia and think tanks.”

And...

The Kochs have long depended on the public’s not knowing all the details about them. They have been content to operate what David Koch has called “the largest company that you’ve never heard of.” But with the growing prominence of the Tea Party, and with increased awareness of the Kochs’ ties to the movement, the brothers may find it harder to deflect scrutiny. Recently, President Obama took aim at the Kochs’ political network. Speaking at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser, in Austin, he warned supporters that the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Citizens United case—which struck down laws prohibiting direct corporate spending on campaigns—had made it even easier for big companies to hide behind “groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity.” Obama said, “They don’t have to say who, exactly, Americans for Prosperity are. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation”—or even, he added, “a big oil company.” 

The Kochs were not happy about the article and tried to retaliate against Mayer according to a NYTimes article What Happened to Jane Mayer When She Wrote About the Koch Brothers.

Eleven years later, David Koch is dead but Charles Koch is still at it. And it appears that what Charles Koch has decided is that since voters don't like libertarian ideas, the real problem is democracy itself. Mayer recently wrote again for the New Yorker about Koch:

A recording obtained by The New Yorker of a private conference call on January 8th, between a policy adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell and the leaders of several prominent conservative groups—including one run by the Koch brothers’ network—reveals the participants’ worry that the proposed election reforms garner wide support not just from liberals but from conservative voters, too. The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill’s provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors. The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn’t worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress.

But they have a plan - phony bipartisanship:

On the call, McKenzie, the Koch operative, cited one “ray of hope” in the fight against the reforms, noting that his research found that the most effective message was arguing that a politically “diverse coalition of groups opposed” the bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union. “In our message example that we used, we used the example of A.C.L.U., Planned Parenthood, and conservative organizations backed by Charles Koch as an example of groups that oppose H.R. 1,” he said. “I think, you know, when you put that in front of people . . . they’re, like, ‘Oh, conservatives and some liberal groups all oppose this, like, I should maybe think about this more. You know, there must be bigger implications to this if these groups are all coming together on it.’ ”

However, that test message was inaccurate. Planned Parenthood does not oppose the For the People Act. It is, in fact, on a list of organizations giving the legislation their full backing. And the A.C.L.U. supports almost all of the expansions of voting rights contained in the bill...

I think Koch flunkies got the memo. Just recently I noted that Koch employee and Trump supporter Christopher F. Rufo was trying to pass off FAIR as a bipartisan group when it is clear it is far right-leaning and full of people who take money from Koch-supported organizations.

Mayer and the New Yorker are national treasures for their reporting on Koch. It's curious that the New Yorker is also one of the few media outlets that isn't baffled by Steven Pinker's bullshit - or the bullshit of other Koch-funded grifters.