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Last time I looked, the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson, and a few other reactionary, government-purchasing bizzillionaires were making full use of the fruits of the Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens United decision: pouring $63 million (!) into backing Scott Walker in his recall election in Wisconsin alone. And, no doubt emboldened by the success of this exercise of their "free speech", hundreds of millions more will be utilized to purchase the White House (and Congress). Although they don't need much emboldening.

chris mathews

But in their quest to turn the USA into Italy ca. 1933, the Koch Brothers and fellow plutopaths® are getting plenty of help which is essentially free. In fact, they can probably save a lot of their money.

As we learn so often, whether it's a chick or the Yankees or the White House, money is never enough to seal the deal. I mean, blow me over with a couple of blue dogs and David Gregory, I thought Citizens United was the answer to everything. Repeal that and all is well in democratic experiment 1776.

Not exactly.

The Republicans, their cheerleaders and, directly and indirectly, the vaunted Media ("liberal", "fair and balanced" and otherwise) are busy working the other angles, beyond old reliables Fox, Hannity, and Beck et al.

Let's start with the usual Dirty Tricks. Despite all that Koch dough, evidently you still have to cheat. A lot.

For example, "robocalls" routinely go out in hotly contested elections. In poor, elderly, collegiate or otherwise Democratic bastions, signs go up which say "Be sure to vote on Wednesday!" when of course the election is Tuesday. In Wisconsin most recently, calls went out to underinformed Democratic districts saying "if you signed the recall petition, there's no need to vote".

Donald Segretti lives!

Another new trick I've noticed lately, probably from the Karl Rove playbook: rightwing or just plain bogus polls going out almost daily, indicating, for example that suddenly, Romney is leading Obama in women voters - this AFTER he famous blurted "Planned Parenthood - we'll get rid of that." The overriding strategy here is of course, low info voters like to play the favorites.

Another institution that seems to have been infiltrated: the once respected Politifact seems to have been infected by the Tea Party worm virus, calling blatant, verifiable GOP lies "mostly true".

Also of a giant help to the Koch efforts is the relentless chatter of 24/7 cable pundits, from where many prospective voters get their information as well as disinformation and a good deal of misinformation. Fox is the obvious Republican propaganda arm. But in many ways worse are the watery "liberals" on, say, MSNBC, especially Chris Matthews, whose main interest seems self-serving, to maintain the election as seeming like a tight horse race – which is good for ratings, good for having something for useless guests like Michael Smerconish to talk about. This effort drives them to either undermine Obama themselves by misreporting or under reporting events, or to present right-wing operatives as guests, spewing talking points as if they are the legitimate “other side”. One would think they have their own channel, leave ours alone. You never see, say, David Corn on Fox.

But we need always remember big (the networks) and cable media are ultimately arms of big corporations. Their management of the news is often rather transparent. And it's also why Exxon and BP produce those feel good commercials. If they are buying ads, editors are reluctant to do anti-petroleum (or perhaps pro-global warming) stories. Same goes with those pharmaceutical ads. Who are they for? They are for persuading news people to leave them alone.

Worse culprits in the Koch Helper Syndrome are the Sunday Talk Shows, (including Sixty Minutes and not including Fox Sunday). Don’t get me started on David Gregory and the formerly highly respectable Meet the Press, which he has turned into a softball game. Hell, there are stories now that Sixty Minutes would have reported 20 or 30 years ago.

The Sunday Talk Shows have become notorious for their overwhelming number of Republican white men (a staggering 80% of guests in the last year, according to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting). And further notorious is utter lack of in depth questioning these white Republicans, especially of the almost hilarious recitation of identical talking points particularly by right wing operatives.

Also helpful to the Koch Brothers cause is the tragic, gutless lack of reportage in the electronic media in general beyond Rachel Maddow, seldom calling out Romney – a candidate for a major party for President of the United States - for his relentless, blatant, often easily checkable lies. Lies about his own previous statements. Lies about his governance of Massachusetts. Or simply not reportage of his Massachusetts record. Lies about his “job creation” with Bain Capital, and lies about Bain’s true mission. Lies about his views on Vietnam, and his actions to avoid the draft he supported. Lies about his memories of high school “pranks”. And that’s just about himself. There are lies about Obama and Solyndra, Obama being an apologist. Lies about Obama’s being “weak” in foreign policy, lies about Obama never advancing a jobs plan, lies about “Obamacare” and its relationship to “Romneycare”.

If the lies are left to stand in the news media, where potential get much of their information (campaign ads don’t really count as “information”), then the Koch Brothers can save plenty of money. If you’re out of a job and out of a house and out of unemployment and out of welfare… and it’s because the Republican Congress is committing to defeating Barack Obama… and the news is not reporting on this news, then naturally one is apt to simply vote for the other guy.

We would have a chance against Citizens United IF there was a vigilant media (which essentially means television). Yes, plenty of info (i.e., The Truth) can be found on the Internet, but it’s a bit like panning for gold. And non wonks aren’t apt to Google Daily Kos when they can Google Play Station cheats or nude shots of Lindsay Lohan.

The now dying newspapers are no help. One wonders if Woodward and Bernstein would have a chance to publish their scoop now in the Post, or if the New York Times would have published the Pentagon Papers. Lord knows they didn’t publish the Downing Street Memos, whereas they did publish ex-reporter and now Fox pundit Judith Miller’s Iraq war cheerleading.

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And finally, the Kochs' biggest weapon and ally, and certainly money well spent: Republican congressional obstructionism, in a deliberate quest to crash (or not help) the economy in a breathtakingly psychopathic effort to make sure Obama is a one-term President. Now that cat seems to be out of the bag, thanks to a book by Norman Ornstein, a honcho in no less than the Heritage Foundation, and reporting in the UK press.

But who doubted it for second? With a painful economy that not even FDR or Ronald Reagan could fix in three years, their strategy is to create more pain, by essentially doing nothing – not even supporting the programs they traditionally support, or invented, to Norquist any revenue enhancements, and, most appalling, to pull such breathtaking stunts as holding the debt ceiling hostage.

Our representative, tri-cameral government is suddenly implied to be a dictatorship, wherein President Obama can make all good things happen, so therefore, is at fault when no good things happens. But then what average low information voter would connect those dots? The third cameral is The Supreme Court whose transparent agenda has unleashed a world of pain. Next up: Obamacare.

So while two-thirds of the federal government effectively don’t allow good things to happen which make Obama look good, they allow bad things to happen which, thanks to mass media failures, make Obama look bad. But even so, given the theory that people vote their pocketbooks, for sure no reason to improve those pocketbooks. The obstructionism is allowed to go on with impunity because they know it will receive little coverage in the “mainstream media”, other than perhaps MSNBC and Randi Rhodes.

What most of the voting public is left with is the perception that government isn’t functioning, is in disarray, voting itself is useless or, worse, treacherous. Polls are conflicting because they are now conducted for advocacy not truth. The accessible media is not reporting the whole story, and besides, is often drowned out by Kardashian-style reality programming. And a million other diversions that keep people from following the candidacy and referenda that totally change their lives. And with low information, it’s easy to vote against one’s own best interest.

The Republicans are happy to have the system questioned, as people suffer. All the diversions work for them. The effort to defund and dumb down schools works for them. Naturally, this serves to make it incredibly easy to cast blame on Obama and the Democrats.

That's not a sad unforeseen result of all the obstruction, and the trashing of the system -- that is the GOAL.

And there's the relentless "both sides are doing it" meme in the public discourse, which I'm convinced Frank Luntz invented along with "job creators" (instead of "greedy rich corporatists") and "death tax" (instead of "estate tax"). “Both sides are doing it” simply serves to let everybody off the hook. Needless to say both sides are doing it.

This is how poor Jeb "Stand Your Ground", "Terri Schiavo", "Florida 2000" Bush got himself of the hook when he recently criticized Republicans for their extremism and partisanship. To walk it back the next day, he said, (excuse me, "tweeted") essentially, he meant to say "both sides are doing it". Phew! Ass covered, Republicans off the hook.

And so, in addition to shiploads of money to spend on eager TV outlets to air advertisements, they still feel the need to lie, and cheat.

And steal. As if 2000's Florida debacle was sooooo long ago that we all forgot, another right-wing governor is desperately and, obviously in the most breathtaking in-your-face fashion, endeavoring to "expunge" thousands of potential Democratic voters from the voter rolls. This comes after another law which virtually put an end to voter registration drives was struck down. Medicare fraudmeister Rick Scott was elected governor of this key state in 2010, and he wasted no time Scott Walkerizing everything, from requiring drug tests of welfare recipients to making sure as few Democrats are able to vote as possible.

There is always the excuse of "voter fraud", in this case the horrifying notion of thousands of "non citizens" voting for the presumed foreigner Barack Obama. Scott is threatening to defy, in true George Wallace fashion, the Department of Justice which required him to stop the expunging since such an effort was in direct violation of the 1965 voting rights act. Not to mention the 14th amendment. All 67 county vote commissioners are refusing to go along (oh how familiar is this?). All that's missing is Katherine Harris.

This effort to limit Democratic voting is well underway all across the country, and not just in the old Confederate South where one might expect such shenanigans just by tradition - places like Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin (d'uh!) have all come up with the ALEC-driven "voter ID" scheme, using widespread “voter fraud” (indeed there have been seven cases in 10 years) as a smokescreen to make sure suspicious characters don’t vote. And the argument is always "you need an ID to buy a beer" -- so presumably voting should REALLY require vetting. Not according to the Constitution, of course. But that raggedy, every old piece of paper has been a terrible stumbling block.

Or there is always the suggestion that if you show up to the polls, you'll be busted for overdue child support or past due bills. Or, as a last result, goons will haunt the polling places, questioning voters' qualifications or intimidating voters from even entering the polling place.

With Florida expunging voters, with a dozen states concocting Voter ID laws, with the news not reporting the news, with Congress blocking Obama’s jobs programs thus allowing the economy to founder, with several states demonizing and breaking up unions (a traditional source of Democratic contributions and votes), with David Gregory not asking the tough questions, who the hell needs the Koch Brothers?

bob illes

Robert Illes

From Valley Dems United, Margie Murray, editor.

Published: Thursday, 5 July 2012