The Koch Brothers’ Party

Most of us know that the NSA is spending billions of our taxpayer dollars to track our every move, though the data is collected and only used if some hired dude, following procedures that look for programmed threats, decides you’re doing something suspicious. We know that companies like Amazon follow your moves on its website so that it can plaster your Internet Protocol (IP) path with purchase recommendations. They use your Tracking Cookies or Browsing history to determine your past inquiries.

Furthermore, some of us know how organizations of political candidates collect data on voter preferences and habits, but few know the extent of similar collections by billionaires with a vested political interest like the Koch brothers and their allies. I know. We keep hearing the Koch name and seeing the same token grandfatherly pictures, for Kochs don’t mix with the minions; they let their tax-exempt corporations do their dirty work, hiding the nature of their own ruse to rip us off.

The Kochs are pumping tens of millions of dollars into data companies and data networks to develop detailed, state-of-the-art profiles of some 250 million Americans. These dudes are serious about controlling the American political system at all levels of government.

Unfortunately for us, the Kochs are self-elected by virtue of their birthright, their inherited billions, privileges granted by the Supreme Court, a friendly Fox media, and co-conspirator Republicans. They are the new imperials and their coin is of their own realm with a non-profit hidden image on it.

In little over a year, for example, the Kochtopus, the tangled web of funding having the look of an octopus, handed out almost $264 million to just two groups, the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and TC4 Trust, so-called non-profits. But names and organizations change like a sleight of hand while the money continues to flow.

Now you see it (tens of millions spent for their causes); now you don’t – this seems to be the Koch self-serving equation. One of their latest arms of self-serve, Public Notice, a Koch-connected, Washington-based nonprofit organized as a limited liability corporation with 501c (4) tax status, was founded in 2010 for the purpose of promoting the reduction of the national debt and slashing discretionary government spending, and spending on safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare. In addition, Public Notice pushes to repeal Obamacare and block increases in the federal debt limit. This put it in the center of shutting down the government a year ago to make our share of the national pie smaller and theirs larger, while threatening the solvency of the government.

It is well-documented that the Kochs work to take away public moneys earmarked for the people while working to reduce their own taxes, gain environmental license to pollute and push policies that line their pockets, like the Keystone Pipeline, for example. Such leveraged efforts to squeeze money out of our pockets are done through non-profit – thus non-taxed — organizations which American taxpayers subsidize. That is quite ironic: we subsidize policies that will take more money out of our own pockets.

Now, getting back to Koch data-gathering efforts, the Koch operation surpasses the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) data capabilities in most important ways. In effect, the Kochs are unelected stand-ins for an elected government that is being bought with their money, part of it made through favors worth billions of dollars, which they purchase from elected officials for a few million dollars in campaign donations. It is favors purchased for a pittance!

The Koch data network has hired experts in collecting and utilizing data: polling, fact-checking, advertising, media buying, robo-calling apparatus, and donor maintenance. Its hired lawyers are masters of election law. Its GOP politicians, especially at the state levels, trash unions, grant corporate contracts, squeeze school budgets, reduce corporate taxes, suppress worker rights, and curb opponent-friendly voting.

It just means that citizens who vote GOP are still encouraged to vote, but those who vote Democrat are discouraged, misinformed, browbeat or otherwise driven from election day activity.

With the Koch data network, enough of all voters that they can’t turn away can be manipulated with their store of data to vote against their own interests. A vast array of weapons – all that money can buy – is at their disposal.

One important weapon is a for-profit company started by a former adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign, called i360. The Koch-affiliated Freedom Partners (founded in 2011) became an investor in i360. It links voter information with consumer data purchased from credit bureaus and other vendors. Added in is information from social networks like Facebook, and voter interaction with campaigns and advocacy groups. Another i360 service includes information about TV viewing.

Armed with such data, the effectivity of election campaigns can be greatly enhanced. The corporate mainstream media, commandeered by a few Koch strategy-meeting friends, can be guided to GOP advantage, campaign ads can be targeted to audience preferences, robo-call messages and recipients tailored, mailers selectively sent, districts gerrymandered, and door-to door contacts optimized.

The less malleable voters can be turned away with voter suppression techniques geared at minorities and those most likely to vote Democrat. The Supreme Court ruling on voting rights was an important weapon for this effort.

Having a completely rigged system in place  which breeds anger, division and misinformation, Republicans can still obstruct middle class relief and block support for anything that changes the current equation. A unified front demands Republicans be against changes that rid us of unlimited money for elections, voting rights protections, strengthened worker interests, and more investment in education for an informed citizenry.

After all, if a vibrant voter-centered democracy returns, Republicans will have to start representing the people, diverting their focus away from the corporate rich. And Democrats will have to return to s more progressive time when the people mattered.

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.