Have a Koch and a smile.
So who are the Koch brothers and what in the wide, wide world of sports do they have to do with this Cambridge Analytica stuff you have been harping on about? Well dear reader, I shall explain.
Firstly, despite the fact that it would be a pretty fitting name Koch is not actually pronounced like cock. Sadly life is not a hilarious mash-up of Viz magazine and Charles Dickens. Villains are rarely called Mr Bastard. Rather their name is pronounced coke, like the sweet, delicious, sugary, zesty, life affirming product popular in America and the rest of the world. There is also a drink that shares the same name and is also made in South America but is hugely profitable for the USA. I could have used that for the analogy but I have principles and couldn’t bring myself to be seen to be advocating or unfairly glamorising something that could be harmful to children. I’m just classy like that.
Koch Industries is a Kansas-based privately held corporation led by brothers Charles and David Koch, heirs to the Fred Koch oil fortune.
Fred Koch liked money, a lot. He liked a lot of money and he liked having a lot of money a lot. The following story taken from Vanity Fair describes an incident which highlights this:
“One associate recalls strolling down East 80th Street with Frederick on a sweltering summer afternoon in the mid-1990s. Crossing Fifth Avenue, Frederick noticed a nickel in the middle of the crosswalk; it had been run over so many times that it was embedded in the asphalt. His companion looked on in shock as Frederick took out his keys, stooped down and began trying to pry the coin loose. The multi-millionaire continued to work as the traffic light changed. Traffic bore down and horns blared, but Frederick kept digging, finally dislodging the nickel. "I got it," he said, holding the coin up with a beatific expression on his face. “I just was dumbfounded,” his companion recalled. ("I never pick up coins in the street," Frederick responds, "despite this apocryphal account.")”
It is debated as to quite how right wing Fred Koch was – it is strongly suggested that his nanny growing up was an avowed fascist, it has also been suggested that the young Frederick’s bowel movements were regimented to a degree of regularity that you could run Japanese trains to by this Teutonic woman. Who knows, perhaps that was the key to his business acumen later in life?
Frederick Koch helped Stalin build oil refineries in Russia early in his career before trying to memory hole this. This happened in 1929 and earned Frederick $5 million dollars, an astronomical sum at that time. After this, Frederick turned towards leaders that were decidedly more right wing in their attitude. In 1934 Fred Koch worked with U.S. businessman and Nazi sympathizer William Rhodes Davis to begin building a large oil refinery in Hamburg, Germany. Hitler himself personally approved the plan. In 1935 Koch industries were helping to provide the technology that allowed Germany to collect over 1000 tons of crude oil a day and convert it into high octane jet fuel. In 1938 Fred Koch said “Although nobody agrees with me, I am of the opinion that the only sound countries in the world are Germany, Italy, and Japan, simply because they are all working and working hard.”
Fred Koch was a founding member of the John Birch Society a right wing Christian organisation known for its conspiracy theories and ability to see creeping communism in every facet of existence.
Political influence – America’s real choice!
So anyway, whilst the Mercers have only recently started making inroads into the arenas where they can manipulate policy in their favour, the Kochs have been at work for decades infiltrating and influencing right wing politics to more closely match their business interests.
Where there’s Koch there’s hospitality!
The sons, Charles and David, themselves as libertarian and occasionally make noise about some worthy causes such as drug legalisation and marriage equality. However, these proclamations never really amount to much more than talk and the same pattern of government influence continues. Funds donated from the Koch Industries fortune are funnelled through several foundations, grouped as the Koch Family Foundations. This somehow makes its way in the direction of politicians and lo and behold policy is passed that favours big business.
Some have creatively called the network of think tanks and influencing bodies owned by the brothers, the Kochtopus. It includes Americans for Prosperity, which in 2012 raised as much money as the Republican National Committee itself , The Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy (defunct, split into AFP and FreedomWorks), The Competitive Enterprise Institute, George Mason University, The Heritage Foundation, The Reason Foundation, The Tax Foundation and several other avenues of influence as we shall see.
The Koch Brothers, via a series of conduits, also provide financing for the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation is a right wing think tank that, similar to the others, tries to sway public policy. The Heritage Foundation is described as one of the most influential conservative research centres in the world. Rebecca Mercer (daughter of Cambridge Analytica and Breitbart owner Robert Mercer) has been on the board of trustees since 2014. At least 66 foundation employees and alumni got staffing positions in the Trump administration. The foundation also recommended cabinet members Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos, Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, and Jeff Sessions.
Author Jane Mayer highlighted how the Koch think tank Americans for Prosperity (AFP) was actually behind the Tea party Movement in America. AFP "took a lead role in organizing the Tea Party rebellion." But the Kochs insisted that they were not involved in the tea party movement, and as Mayer noted, "such denials helped shape the early narrative" in the media "of the Tea Party movement as an amateur uprising by ordinary citizens."
Essentially these think tanks and other entities lobby for the elimination of renewable energy initiatives, the elimination of the EPA, elimination of mass transit, in particular state-funded railroads, the elimination of all minimum wage laws, the elimination of virtually the entire social safety net (in particular SS and Medicare), the elimination of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the elimination of marriage equality, the elimination of abortion, the elimination of public education, the elimination of the right to organize unions and the elimination of most of the Civil Rights Act (legalizing discrimination in the name of business). So it’s pretty safe to say that these guys are elitist, industrialist scum.
Liars and frauds in the alt media or Things go better with Koch!
You may also remember from reading the previous blogs that the Koch brothers invested heavily in Breitbart Magazine. This was done with Cambridge Analytica financier and Breitbart owner Robert Mercer via a conduit called GAI set up by his friend Steve Bannon – this was technically illegal.
Mercer and the Koch brothers also financed James O Keefe at Project Veritas who often interacted with Breitbart and Infowars, most famously on his failed “sting” on Acorn and Planned Parenthood, where he dressed up as a pimp and offered the companies the profits from his “trafficking ring” – he was arrested shortly afterwards.
The Daily Caller is also financed by the Koch brothers. Dave Rubin and the Rubin Report are also financed by the Koch brothers. The Washington Free Beacon is also financed by the Koch brothers. Watchdog.org and The Blaze are also heavily financed by the Kochs.
Candace Owens (despite claiming to be fiercely independent) works for Turning Point USA a far right organization funded by the billionaire Betsy Devos and the Koch brothers. Candace Owens has also appeared on Infowars and the Rubin Report. The Devos family over the years have financed the Republican Party to the tune of over £200 million. Betsy DeVos is the current Secretary of Education for the USA. Betsy Devos is part of a conservative think tank funded by the Koch brothers. Charlie Kirk who runs Turning Point USA is also in the pocket of the Koch brothers. Betsy Devos’s brother is Erik Prince who ran the mercenary army Blackwater.
The Heritage Foundation has also spent millions to sponsor the radio shows of Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, according to Politico magazine.
Tucker Carlson, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, also has other ties to the Kochs: He joined the Cato Institute in 2009, which the Koch brothers co-founded, and he is currently listed as a senior fellow there. The Cato Institute has received millions of dollars from the Koch family, and David Koch currently sits on Cato's board of directors.
Author Jane Mayer reported that FreedomWorks (a Koch brothers think tank) "quietly cemented a deal" in 2011 with Glenn Beck, who was a Fox News host at the time. Beck read "embedded content" written by FreedomWorks staff in exchange for an annual payment "that eventually topped $1 million." Mayer further explained: "They told him what to say on the air, and he blended the promotional material seamlessly into his monologue, making it sound as if it were his own opinion."
Koch it is!
So just to sum up there Breitbart, Rebel Media, Project Veritas, The Washington Free Beacon, The Daily Caller, The Rubin Report, James O Keefe, Dave Rubin, , Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck (and you can also chuck in Tommy Robinson, Richard Spencer, Laura Loomer, Lauren Southern, Milo Yiannapopolous, Ben Shapiro, Stephen Crowder, Dinesh D’souza, PragerU, Westmonster and Gatestone Media – please read the previous blogs) are all admitted tools of elitist industrialists who are being used to advance their agenda whilst being disguised as organic journalism. Furthermore they know this, they just don’t respect you, and they just take the money and lie to your face.
Harvesting data, building profiles and testing persuasion models – You can’t beat the feeling!
So the other reason I have been interested is because of the data harvesting, profiling and targeted advertising that the Koch’s have been looking into for years. This is remarkably similar to the tactics of British Intelligence weapon Cambridge Analytica (helped Trump, Brexit and literally dozens of other successful election campaigns) and Black Cube (Israeli arm of Cambridge Analytica ran by Mossad), so I was intrigued.
As reported in Salon Magazine:
“New documents uncovered by the Center for Media and Democracy show that the billionaire Koch brothers have developed detailed personality profiles on 89 percent of the U.S. population; and are using those profiles to launch an unprecedented private propaganda offensive to advance Republican candidates in the 2018 midterms.
The documents also show that the Kochs have developed persuasion models that target voters with tailored messaging on select issues, and partner with cable and satellite TV providers to play those tailored messages during “regular” television broadcasts.
Over the last decade, big data and microtargeting have revolutionized political communications. And the Kochs, who are collectively worth $120 billion, now stand at the forefront of that revolution — investing billions in data aggregation, machine learning, software engineering and Artificial Intelligence optimization.
In modern elections, incorporating AI into voter file maintenance has become a prerequisite to producing reliable data. The Kochs’ political data firm, i360 states that it has “been practicing AI for years. Our team of data scientists uses components of Machine learning, Deep Learning and Predictive Analytics, every day as they build and refine our predictive models.”
This seems to be a continuation of the ongoing campaigns to reach voters with their individually tailored communications, designed to provoke emotion without the recipient’s knowledge.
The Koch’s have been looking into this since at least 2010 with a fledgling data aggregation company called Themis. In 2011, the Kochs folded Themis into a data competitor it acquired, i360 LLC, which was founded by Michael Palmer, the former chief technology officer of Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. Palmer still leads the organization.
The point of these companies is to collect data long term and best arrange it in a manner that can be used to manipulate beliefs and voting habits in their target audience.
“Right now, we’re talking about and building things that you won’t see in 2016, because it’s not going to be ready until 2018,” Michael Palmer said in the wake of the 2014 midterm cycle.
Those programs are now operational. And according to a successful GOP campaign manager, i360 is the “best in the business” at providing Republicans with voter data. The list of customers for i360 runs into the hundreds and can be found here: https://www.fec.gov/data/disbursements/?two_year_transaction_period=2018&data_type=processed&recipient_name=i360&min_date=01%2F01%2F2017&max_date=10%2F14%2F2018
Koch Industries usually offer such attractive prices for this voter data that they actually lose money. This is offset hugely at the other end when policy goes there way. The Kochs usually bring in about $115 billion a year.
We’ve got a taste for you!
As Salon reported:
“i360’s voter file identifies “more than 199 million active voters and 290 million U.S. consumers,” and provides its users with up to 1,800 unique data points on each identified individual.
As a result, i360 and the Kochs know your vitals, ethnicity, religion, occupation, hobbies, shopping habits, political leanings, financial assets, marital status and much more.
They know if you enjoy fishing — and if you do, whether you prefer salt or fresh water. They know if you have bladder control difficulty, get migraines or have osteoporosis. They know which advertising mediums (radio, TV, internet, email) are the most effective. For you.
So how did this work? You Can't Beat the Real Thing!
Well they took this data and catered it towards what might be effective for you. For example in Ohio they determined that the opioid addiction problem was the main issue concerning voters. The thing was there were differing opinions on the cause and solution to this affliction sweeping across the area. Some, those personally effected, saw it as a treatment and rehabilitation issue based in poverty and lack of opportunity. Some saw it as a law enforcement issue that needed to sort out the scum. The Koch brothers machinery was able to cater adverts to both of those demographics based on their collected data and propose diametrically opposed policies for the same candidate. The Kochs are tailoring their advertising to you, because they know nearly everything about you in exactly the same way that Cambridge Analytica did.
“This manipulation of the opioid crisis for political gain has a perverse irony given the Kochs’ long-running work to provide corporate interests, including health care and pharmaceutical interests, with undue political power and influence over public policy decisions. The Kochs have gifted over a million dollars to ALEC, for example, an organization that counts Purdue Pharma — the unconscionable manufacturer of OxyContin — as a member.”
When all of this is combined with the Koch’s proven record of influencing media outlets either by bribing hosts or owning the outlets outright is, to say the least, troubling. Aside from the previous outlets mentioned author Jane Mayer also exposed:
“Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the central group in the Kochs' financial network, paid Republican strategist Frank Luntz's firm $1.5 million for messaging work in 2014. Luntz then used his media platform as an analyst at CBS News to praise the Kochs and defend their spending without disclosing his own financial ties to them.”
More recently the Kochs spent $650 million dollars to purchase Time inc via a company called Meredith. The reason for this gargantuan spend? Simply to remove any negative references to the Koch’s from any Time publication. I can’t decide whether that is Bond villain level genius or so pathetic and insecure that it makes you lose all faith in humanity and drives you to want to put your head in a fan.
“In the early years of this decade, Meredith provided stealth marketing efforts to delete critical commentary about the Koch brothers and their political ventures. New Media Strategies, a subsidiary of Meredith, was retained by Koch Industries to airbrush Wikipedia articles relating to Koch Industries, David Koch, Charles Koch, the Tea Party, and Richard Fink, a strategist for the Koch brothers’ political operation. It’s not clear if such relationships continued after they were exposed.
An internal investigation by Wikipedia editors found that one account New Media Strategies employees working for Koch had also used a number of so-called sock puppet accounts to edit articles relating to the Kochs. In one instance, a Wikipedia editor named “MBMadmirer” changed an entry about the Koch brothers’ effort to finance groups that deny the link between pollution and climate change. In another instance, MBMadmirer attempted to promote criticism of Jane Mayer, a prominent journalist who has investigated the Koch brothers. When the news was revealed, New Media Strategies confirmed its arrangement.
Multiple Wikipedia accounts allegedly tied to MBMadmirer only edited Wikipedia articles relating to the political activities of the Koch brothers to airbrush criticism. (“WWB,” a self-identified former New Media Strategies employee, also attempted to edit and delete this reporter’s Wikipedia page.) MBMadmirer, named after theMarket-Based Management slogan Charles Koch says he uses to run his businesses, was one of several accounts operated by New Media Strategies to shape articles relating to the Koch brothers. The edits show that New Media Strategy employees were busy working to shape the public perception of the Kochs since 2010.”
They want to do what to the NHS? or Koch adds life!
The Guardian recently reported that by some stroke of luck the Koch brothers were getting preferential treatment and being courted for potentially lucrative contracts. Lucrative for them you understand, I honestly don’t think any benefit to the general public has ever come into their mind frame:
“A radical blueprint for a free trade deal between the UK and the US that would see the NHS opened to foreign competition, a bonfire of consumer and environmental regulations and freedom of movement between the two countries for workers, is to be launched by prominent Brexiters. The text of the new trade deal has been prepared by the Initiative for Free Trade (IFT) – a thinktank founded by the longtime Eurosceptic MEP Daniel Hannan, one of the leaders of Vote Leave – and the Cato Institute, a rightwing libertarian thinktank in the US founded and funded by the fossil fuel magnates and major political donors the Koch family.”
Allow me to translate, they plan to roll back regulation and privatise the NHS in favour of an American system – which with all due respect, is shit.
“The policy initiative was shaped in consultation with a group of other conservative libertarian thinktanks on both sides of the Atlantic, the blueprint explains. These include UK organisations whose funding is opaque, such as the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) and the Adam Smith Institute among others in the UK, and others in the US including the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The authors argue for a free trade agreement that would loosen government controls on capital and data flows and be “more liberalising than any other free trade agreement in the world”. They say that it could become a model for future deals post-Brexit. It would remove tariffs and throw out the precautionary principle that has guided much EU regulation on GM foods, chlorine-washed chicken, hormones in meat, pesticides and chemicals in cosmetics.”
Allow me to translate again – the quality of food and regulations for product safety would be greatly reduced. Also they would have even more access to your data – this is fucking appalling!
Just in case you thought this was not connected to Brexit, well guess who also stands to make money and gain influence from this - *sarcastic drum roll* David Davis, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove – all arch Brexiteers.
ARE YOU GETTING THE FEELING YOU HAVE BEEN CHEATED YET?
“In the UK, the researchers behind the blueprint have had exceptional access to ministers in both the Department for International Trade and the Department for Exiting the European Union, with IEA staff and its head of trade policy, Shanker Singham, meeting Liam Fox, David Davis, Steve Baker and other ministers and special advisers on numerous occasions since the referendum result, government transparency data shows. Fox has given speeches at both the Heritage Foundation and the AEI before and after the referendum.
The IFT itself had a controversial birth last summer. It was initially launched as the Institute for Free Trade but was forced to change its name to the Initiative for Free Trade Ltd following a Companies House investigation that enforced the rule that “institute” may only be used by bodies conducting significant independent research and not by lobby groups. It also came under fire when the then foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, allowed it to use the Foreign Office map room for its launch free of its usual charge for outside bodies. As well as Johnson, prominent hardline cabinet Brexiters Fox and Michael Gove were guests at the launch.”
I will go as far as to say this - David Davis, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are all in the pockets of the Koch brothers. So it would seem is Jacob Rees- Mogg.
The Koch side of life
I realise that some of you may be wondering where on earth is that haunted hockey stick Jacob Rees-Mogg in all of this? Fear not, he has been lying just as much and therefore will also be rewarded greatly. That is even without discussing Somerset Capital management. You see that is his firm that stands to make literally billions arranging trade deals after Brexit. The more chaotic the exit (no deal for example) the more lovely, lovely cash they make. They have also opened two new branches in Ireland so that they can continue to enjoy the benefits of being in the world’s largest trading bloc, despite campaigning for the last two years that this is a terrible thing to be in. In his defence he claims that the move has nothing to do with Brexit – it was simply so that certain of their clients would still be able to work with them post Brexit – yes, yes I know please don’t try to navigate that amount of bullshit you will give yourself cholera. He also stands to be able to hide his offshore holdings.
Anyway he was trying to help launch Turning Point UK as reported in the Independent:
“Jacob Rees-Mogg and several Conservative MPs have been criticised for supporting a new right-wing group vowing to target British students.
Turning Point UK is an offshoot of American organisation Turning Point USA, which has links to Donald Trump’s administration and became notorious for creating a watchlist of “leftist” university professors that has drawn comparisons with McCarthyism.”
The article continues:
It has repeatedly denied racism accusations by former staff, and ejected several members following scandals over racial slurs.
But a report by counter-extremism group Hope Not Hate said Turning Point USA was “mainstreaming extreme views”, including the “white genocide” conspiracy theory and Islamophobia.
Founder Charlie Kirk is a prominent supporter of Mr Trump and has been photographed with Donald Trump Jr and other relatives of the president.
He is scheduled to visit British universities at a series of Turning Point UK events starting next month, which spokeswoman Candace Owens said would cause a “disruption in socialist ideology...
Its chairman is George Farmer, a former member of Oxford University’s Bullingdon Club and the son of former Conservative treasurer Lord Farmer.
Public records show that Mr Farmer donated a total of more than £30,000 to the party in January and March 2018, and attended an elite “leader’s group” dinner with Theresa May, Boris Johnson and other Conservative ministers as a major donor.
Mr Farmer is engaged to Turning Point USA communications director Ms Owens, who is a high-profile supporter of the US president and critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Just in case you missed that, yes, Candace Owens is engaged to a Bullingdon club member. For those not in the know, this is like a fraternity but an extremely exclusive one in an extremely exclusive University, exclusively populated by the very wealthy and the top of the British Aristocracy. Their playful schoolboy japes include trashing restaurants and then throwing cash at the horrified owners or the simple pleasures of incinerating fifty pound notes in front of homeless and destitute people.
There was a pattern noted amongst the attendees that people familiar with the previous blog posts will notice:
“Other members include BeLeave and BrexitCentral founder Darren Grimes, who was fined £20,000 for breaking EU referendum spending laws last year.
Tom Harwood, a Guido Fawkes reporter who ran the student wing of the Vote Leave campaign, is also in the group alongside Leave Means Leave digital strategist Steve Edginton.
Mr Edginton also directs the pro-Brexit Politics UK YouTube channel and writes for the Westmonster website, which is co-owned by Arron Banks and Nigel Farage’s former press adviser Michael Heaver.
A launch event held for Turning Point UK in London last month was reportedly attended by right-wing figures including Leave.EU campaigner Andy Wigmore, InfoWars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson and Breitbart London editor James Delingpole.”
So whenever you think the world is harsh and things are not going your way, thank your lucky stars you were not forced to endure that room of insecure, lying weasels.
There is more to this concerning the Atlas Network which is essentially the Koch brother’s think tank network in South America. Put simply they have been influencing the elections in Argentina, Chile, Venezuala and Brazil – astute readers will see the connection.
But that is for next time as there is probably far too much in this post already. I’ll just leave this:
“Atlas has played a role in Venezuela. Records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, as well as the State Department’s links revealed by Chelsea Manning, refer to the sophisticated efforts of U.S. politicians to use Atlas’ think tanks in a long campaign to destabilize the Venezuelan government. As early as in 1998,
Cedice Libertad, the flagship of Atlas in Caracas, received regular financial support from the Center for International Private Enterprise. The funds that NED assigns for Cedice are explained as helping advocate “a change in government”.
Cedice Libertad provides support to the leaders of the conservative opposition, including Maria Corina Machado. The director of Cedice signed the Carmona Decree, which established the brief dictatorship after the civic-military coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002.
A 2006 cable referred to a strategy of U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield to finance politically active non-profit organizations in Venezuela to strengthen ‘democratic institutions’ towards the penetration of Hugo Chávez’ political base, the division of Chavismo and, above all, the protection of vital businesses at the international level.”
What interest the Koch brothers might have in an oil rich country like Venezuela is anyone’s guess.
Horsey, David, "Koch brothers and big utilities campaign to unplug solar power", L.A. Times (4.23.14 5:00 am).
Kirsten Krosec, "Koch Industries: Behind the Fight to Gut the EPA", CBS Money Watch.
Julie Doubleday, "How Two Billionaires are Destroying High-Speed Rail in America", Attn.
Rebecca Leber Jul, "Billionaire Koch Brother Says Eliminating The Minimum Wage Will Help The Poor", ThinkProgress.
Robert Greenwald, "The Koch brothers' campaign to kill social security", The Guardian.
Drum, Kevin, "The Koch-Fueled Plot to Destroy the VA", Mother Jones (3/13/16 10:55 AM).
Josh Isreal, "No, the Koch Brothers Aren't Socially Liberal", ThinkProgress.
Josh Israel, "New Filings Show Koch Brothers Give Millions To Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice Groups", ThinkProgress.
Steven Rosenfeld, "Who Is More of a Hypocrite on Gay Rights, Koch Brothers or Famed 'Gay Marriage Attorney' Ted Olson?", AlterNet.
Adele M. Stan, "Anatomy of the War on Women: How the Koch Brothers Are Funding the Anti-Choice Agenda", RH Reality Check.
Carl Gibson, "The Koch Brothers' 3-Step Plan to Conquer the Next Generation", RSN/Truthout.
"Who Can Stop the Koch Brothers From Buying the Tribune Papers? Unions Can, and Should", Rolling Stone.
Andrew Stern, "Koch Brothers a force in anti-union effort", Reuters.
Terell Jermaine Starr, "The Kochs are known for destroying the environment, but their civil rights record isn't so great either", Alternet.
Rachel Tabachnick, "The John Birch Society’s Anti-Civil Rights Campaign of the 1960s, and Its Relevance Today", Political Research Associates.