Donald Trump and the Koch Brothers Are Having A Tiff. Get Some Popcorn. Updated: Now With Pierce!

H. Michael Karshis / Flickr Waaaaah The System Is Wigged and...
H. Michael Karshis / Flickr

A funny thing happened on the way to turning the U$A into a libertarian paradise. The Koch Brothers and their allies, who have spent millions to turn government at all levels into their personal plaything, have gotten sideways with the giant orange ant at their picnic.

Sunday I posted a diary: Megadonors at Koch Network Summit Complain About Trump’s Divisiveness. Irony is Dead. It seems that the owners of the country are not happy. The people who have funded the Tea Party, right wing media, dark money, astroturf groups, and all the rest of the things driving us apart, are unhappy because Trump is ‘divisive’ and messing up immigration reform. Yeah, right.

Well, the man-child in the Oval Office got wind of their complaints and is not happy. Via NBC News, he has unleashed the power of the Tweet on them.

“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas,” Trump tweeted.

“Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn. They want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First & the American Worker – a puppet for no one,” he wrote, before dubbing them, “Two nice guys with bad ideas.”

We didn’t start hearing about their concerns until Putin’s puppet crossed the line by starting trade wars. There goes their bottom line.

They love the tax cuts. They love the deregulation. They love all the foxes they’ve been able to slip into the henhouses. They love destroying Obamacare and they can’t wait for the social safety net to be slashed because “government bad!” They love the corporatist Supreme Court. They love the open floodgates for money in politics — but interfering with trade agreements they wrote in the first place for their benefit is a no-no.

They made Trump possible. They got people elected by stirring up popular resentment against government, pushing tax-cutting and deregulation, and demonizing liberals and their base as the root of all evil. Along the way, they rolled up racism and nationalism into the mix, whether they wanted to or not. (And who says they even cared, as long as it worked?) They’ve been doing this for decades.

As they say in Uberwald, if you don’t want the monster, don’t pull the lever.

Trump answers to no one (except Vladimir Putin). His base is more fanatic than ever. The Republicans they thought they owned lock, stock, and barrel do not dare oppose Trump on anything. They have gerrymandered themselves into ‘safe’ districts and restricted voting by those ‘other people’ — but they still have to answer to their hand-picked voters, and those voters are Trump loyalists.


In a rare interview with reporters, Charles Koch spoke about “mistakes” he and his network have made in the past, alluding to the strictly partisan playbook that the organization has deployed for more than a decade.

At a Colorado retreat for the network’s donors, Koch told reporters he “regrets” supporting some Republicans who “say they’re going to be for these principles that we espoused and then they aren’t.” He added that the network, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle, will be “much stricter” when determining who to support in the future.

emphasis added

To make it more interesting, FOX cites the Washington Post and fills out that quote a bit more.

“We’re going to be more strict on holding someone accountable if they say they’re going to be for the principles that we espouse, and then they aren’t,” Charles Koch said, according to the Washington Post. “Our organization is happy to support anybody. We’d love for there to be more Democrats to support these ideas and these issues.

emphasis added

Translation: When we buy them, they damn well better stay bought. And, maybe we should buy some on the other side too, to hedge our bets.

The story is starting to hit the news cycle: CNN, CNBC, the Washington Post, Huff-Po, and FOX are all picking up on it, which just shows the power of Trump to dominate the media. For the Koch brothers, this is unwelcome attention. They prefer to work in the background, through front groups, etc. That’s another way Trump is giving them a sad.

Money in politics is one of those things the medial largely ignores. It’s simpler to frame everything as a horse race between Democrats and Republicans — and not look too closely at how Big Money is working to get the best government money can buy. (But then, given media consolidation and who owns it, is that really a surprise?)

It would be ironic if Donald Trump actually stirs up some populist resentment in his base against the billionaires who have been manipulating them. Don’t hold your breath though. Trump will be gone some day, and they’ll be more careful about who gets in — assuming Putin doesn’t get there first. (How DID Mike Pence get that VP pick, Mr. Manafort, hmm?)

So, kick back and enjoy the kerfuffle while it lasts.

UPDATE: Charles P. Pierce has weighed in, and Trump vs. Koch Brothers is a Battle from Citizens United Hell makes an important point. He quotes the dissent from Justice John Paul Stevens:

If taken seriously, our colleagues’ assumption that the identity of a speaker has no relevance to the Government’s ability to regulate political speech would lead to some remarkable conclusions. Such an assumption would have accorded the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by “Tokyo Rose” during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders. More pertinently, it would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans: To do otherwise, after all, could “ ‘enhance the relative voice’ ” of some ( i.e. , humans) over others ( i.e. , nonhumans). Ante, at (quoting Buckley , 424 U. S., at 49). Under the majority’s view, I suppose it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech.

Congratulations Koch boys. You and all the rest of you who think money is speech opened the door to foreign influence in our elections, by anyone who wants to buy in to what you thought was your game.


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