January 21, 2016

I'm reading Jane Mayer's new book, Dark Money right now. As someone who has tracked the Kochs' spending on politics as best as I can for years, I didn't expect to learn anything new.

I was wrong, right out of the gate.

Take, for example, the fact that while Republican politicians were meeting 7 years ago yesterday to plan how to defeat Democrats and destroy Barack Obama's presidency by obstructing everything, the Koch network was meeting on the very same day in Palm Springs to plan out their strategy to prevent what they saw as an apocalyptic defeat.

Yes, that happened. And Jane Mayer has details, not only about the Kochs, but about the larger billionaire network who funds and promotes the "conservative movement." She names names, and some of them will be names you haven't heard of before.

Democracy Now! interviewed Mayer in anticipation of the book's release this week. There are three parts, but this is the one that interested me the most. You can find the full transcript here.

Here's a little taste to whet your appetite.

Yeah, well, I’m glad you ask, because the book is not just about the Kochs. And the Kochs, on their own, probably would not be able to have the kind of influence they have. But what they’ve done is kind of a magic trick. They’ve attracted around them—they’ve purposefully built what they call an unprecedented network—it’s a pipeline, they talk about it, too—where they’ve gathered about 400 other extraordinarily wealthy conservatives with them to create a kind of a billionaire caucus almost. And that’s the group that met, just as Obama was being inaugurated. Soon after that, they met to figure out: How can we obstruct this? They regarded it as a catastrophe that Obama had been elected, and they wanted to see if they could stop change from taking place in the country and keep the order the way it had been for them during the Bush years, and maybe even push it further to the right.

So this is not—it’s an organization that I think people need to understand is not just about elections. They’ve been playing a long game that started 40 years ago, when Charles Koch really got involved in politics in the beginning. And they wanted to change not just who rules the country, but how the country thinks. They’re very antigovernment. They are—and they have pushed this kind of antigovernment line for 40 years through many different channels. And it’s kind of a war of ideas as much as anything else.

Take a few minutes to watch. And also, add the book to your wish list. You will not regret it.

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