Aspen Times Weekly: Hit & Run with John Colson |

Aspen Times Weekly: Hit & Run with John Colson

with John Colson

All right, now we’re getting down to it.

The New York Times editorial board recently issued a broadside against the lavish spending of the Koch brothers in a blatant attempt to brainwash voters and get them, the voters, to cast ballots against the voters’ own self-interest.

The NYT didn’t exactly put it like that, of course, but the meaning was there.

The editorial, published in late January, was headlined, “The Koch Party,” and heaped criticism on Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy organization organized and financed primarily by brother billionaires Charles and David Koch, who together own 84 percent of Koch Industries, named by Wikipedia as the second-largest privately held company in the U.S.

In the editorial, the paper noted that the Democratic Party has been “staggered by a $20 million advertising blitz” funded by Americans for Prosperity, a campaign aimed primarily at broadcasting half-truths and outright lies about the Affordable Care Act, derisively known as Obamacare (an appellation you will not see here again).

The goal of the campaign, the Times stated, is to undermine Democrat candidates for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate who have supported the health care law and to “blame them for the hyped-up problems with the law’s rollout.”

This and similar disinformation campaigns, the Times continued, “now seem to be the sole plank in this year’s Republican platform.”

An example of these lies, as described by the Times, was an ad that maintained that a Democrat now serving in the House and running for an open Senate seat, Gary Peters, of Michigan, lied when Peters said the Affordable Care Act “bars cancellation of insurance policies.”

But Peters was correct — the law does disallow cancellation of health-insurance policies by insurance companies, a trick that has for decades been a favorite tactic of the insurance industry to rid itself of people with expensive illnesses.

According to the editorial, the 225,000 Michigan residents who received “cancellation notices” actually were receiving notice that they could change to a better policy under the Affordable Care Act. They were not being told they could no longer have insurance.

So, it was the Koch brothers and their minions who were lying. But they did so, and will continue to do so, on the theory that the more often a lie is told, the more likely it is to be believed, regardless of the facts of the matter at hand.

They, and others in their camp, continue to trumpet claims that health care costs are “skyrocketing” as a result of the Affordable Care Act, when the exact opposite is true. Study after study has shown that health care costs are rising at a slower pace than ever before, in large part because of the Affordable Care Act.

But, as noted previously, facts are malleable quantities in the hands of the Koch brothers and their ilk.

Some might recall that David Koch was a Libertarian candidate for U.S. vice president in 1980, and among his proposals at the time was the abolition of the U.S. Social Security programs, which has long been a goal of Republicans and others who feel the poor, the aged and the infirm should be left to their own devices rather than offered government assistance. He soon left the Libertarian Party because it would not bend to his will.

Other things people should know about the Koch empire is that it ranks high among industrial polluters of our air and water and has spent multiple millions to fight environmental legislation aimed at cleaning up our natural resources.

Starting last year, the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity have been putting together an organizational effort that, in the eyes of some, outpaces the official Republican Party in its financing, its reach and its complexity. They are training candidates for races at all levels of politics and bankrolling misinformation campaigns all over the country, and they already have begun pumping millions of dollars from unidentified donors to ill-defined nonprofit groups hoping to give control of the government entirely over to Republicans and tea-baggers.

What it all comes down to is this: The Koch brothers have an unacceptable influence over politics in this country because they have enough money to overdose the dazed U.S. electorate with lies and deceit.

And if it sounds as though I am demonizing them, I guess I am, because I believe their influence on U.S. politics is an evil one designed to do only one thing — make them and their cohorts richer and more secure while emasculating our social safety net, our public-educational efforts and any chance of undoing the growing social and financial inequality that characterizes this nation.

Aspen Times Weekly

This week in Aspen history

“Without any exception the worst snow storm known since the advent of the railroad west of Leadville has been raging over the crest of the continental divide since last Thursday,” asserted the Aspen Tribune on January 31, 1899.

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